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# f ^ THE 

PORTFOLIO 

MONOGRAPHS ON ARTISTIC SUBJECTS 
EDITED BY P. G. HAMERTON 



J. BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

By JULIA CART WRIGHT 

DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

By F. G. STEPHENS 

FREDERICK WALKER 
By CLAUDE PHILLIPS 



f 
LONDON 
SEELEY AND CO., LIMITED, ESSEX STREET, STRAND 

NEW YORK : MACMILLAN AND CO. 



1894 



THE LIBRARY 

nmomvv , m m Y IV 



JULES 
BASTIEN-LEPAGE 



By 



JULIA CARTWRIGHT 

(MRS. HENRY ADY) 
Author of " Sacharissa" " Madame," &c. 




LONDON 
SEELEY AND CO. LIMITED, ESSEX STREET, STRAND 

NEW YORK, MACMILLAN AND CO 
1894 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2012 with funding from 
Brigham Young University 



http://archive.org/details/julesbastienlepaOOadyj 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



PLATES 

PAGE 

Joan of Arc (part of the composition) Frontispiece 

The Artist's Grandfather to face 16 

Sarah Bernhardt , ,, 46 

Love in the Village , ., 64 



ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT 

Jules Bastien-Lepage. From a Relief by A. Saint-Gaudcns 7 

Pen and Ink Sketch of the Artist's Grandfather 11 

The Artist's Father. Bust in bronze 12 

La Communiante 1 <S 

Sketch of the Artist's Grandfather 30 

The Artist's Grandfather 31 

Portrait of Madame Lebegue 30 

The Artist's Mother 4.1 

M. Emile Bastien-Lepage 43 

Madame Drouet 44 

The Potato Gatherers 47 

Joan of Arc listening to the Voices 51 

The Beggar 55 

Sketch for the Death of Ophelia 58 

A 2 



4 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

Sketch of Gambctta after Deatli 61 

Sketches for the Burial of a Young Girl 65, 67 

The Chimney Sweep . 71 

The Artist's Grandfather 74 

Statuette of Orpheus 77 

Round the Lamp 78 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 



PART I 

Qu'il soit done permis a chacun et a tous de voir avec les yeux qu'ils ont . . . Dans 
tous les arts, la victoirc sera toujours a quelques privile'gies "qui sc laisserent aller 
eux-memes, ct les discussions d'e ! cole passeront commc passent les modes." 

George Sand. 

Birth and early years of the Artist — His home and family — Education at Verdun — Choice 
of a profession — Paris training and first pictures — He serves in the war — Is wounded 
in the siege of Paris — Success of " Mon Grandpere " — -His theories of art and inde- 
pendent principles — He exhibits " La Communiante " — Competes for the Prix de Rome 
— Paints " V Annonciation" and "Priam." 



I 

The ways of Fate are strange. One painter attains greatness, almost 
without an effort, and leads a long and prosperous life, loaded with riches 
and rewards. Another, gifted with genius as unquestionable, struggles 
through years of poverty and despair, and after his death the pictures 
which he painted for bread are sold for thousands of pounds. One 
master outlives all his contemporaries and goes down to the grave full 
of years and honours. Another is cut off in the flower of manhood, with 
a glorious career opening before him and fame and fortune both within 
his reach. 

The name of Bastien-Lepage is still fresh in our ears. His works 
are almost as well known in England as they are in France. The 
frequent visits which he paid us during his short lifetime had made his 
presence familiar in London. It seems only the other day that he was 



6 JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

here with us, and we can hardly believe that more than nine years have 
already passed away since the winter evening on which he died. Among 
all the men of genius in this generation who have perished in their prime, 
among all of those upon whom — "Mournfully grating, the gates of the 
city of death have for ever closed " —not one deserved to be more deeply 
lamented. 

When Raphael died, and left a name supreme among painters, he 
was only thirty-seven. But then Raphael was born at Urbino, and lived 
in the golden age of painting. From the day when he opened his eyes 
in the brightest of climes to that sad Good Friday which robbed the 
world of his glory, there was nothing to hinder the development of his 
genius or to cloud the serenity of his art. Bastien- Lepage belonged to a 
later day, and his life was led under harder conditions. He was born 
under gray northern skies, in an obscure village of eastern France. His 
parents were poor, and he had to make his own way in the world. His 
boyhood was spent among peasants and bourgeois who knew nothing of 
art, and had never seen a good picture. In his native village there were 
no great masters, no duke or duchess to look kindly on his first attempts 
and send him with letters of introduction to other cities. There were no 
Popes and cardinals to set him to work on Vatican walls or Farnesina 
ceilings. He came to Paris as a clerk in the Post-Office and served as a 
franc-tireur in the war of 1870. The whole of his artistic career covers 
a period of about twelve years. And both powers of brain and hand 
were at their height when he was attacked by the cruel disease which 
brought his life to an untimely end at thirty-six years of age. Great as 
his actual achievement had been, no one who knew him could doubt that 
greater things were still to come. But Death stepped in, and hopes and 
dreams were scattered to the winds. 

"But the fair guerdon when we hope to find, 
And think to burst out into sudden blaze, 
Comes the blind Fury with the abhorred shears, 
And slits the thin-spun lite." 

" But not the praise." That at least endures. In spite of the rapid 
changes of fashion in modern painting, in spite of the new phase on which 
French art has entered within the last few years, the name of Bastien- 
Lepage is still held in high repute in his native land. In that famous 




"Jules Bastien- Lepage. From a Relief by A. Saint-Gauaens. 



8 JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

collection of the century's art which formed so remarkable a feature of 
the Paris Exhibition five years ago, the works of the painter of Damvillers 
occupied a prominent place. Among them were two of his finest peasant 
pictures, Les Foins, now the property of the State, and Les Ramasseuses 
de Pommes-de-terre, and many of his best portraits. V Amour au Village 
and Pere 'Jacques, it is true, were missing, and only one or two of his 
later drawings were to be seen. But Jeanne d 1 Arc ecoutant les Voix, 
in some respects his finest and most memorable work, was brought back 
from America for the occasion, and hung side by side with the master- 
pieces of Millet and of Courbet, under the central dome of the Palais des 
Beaux Arts. 

There we saw once more the work of this master who had so much 
to say, and so little time to say it in. Once more we recognised the 
boldness and originality of his invention, his uncompromising truthfulness 
and rare intensity of expression. We were able to trace the effects of his 
influence upon living artists, not only in France but in England and 
America, and to realise better than ever before the place which he holds 
in the art movement of the present age. 

Mr. Ruskin has told us that the art which is especially devoted to 
the representation of natural fact always indicates a peculiar thought- 
fulness and gentleness of character. In the case of Bastien-Lepage, the 
rule certainly holds good. The personality of the man is as interest- 
ing as his pictures. The frankness and simplicity of his nature, his 
affectionate disposition and enthusiasm for his art, gained him many 
friends. Long after he was dead, his comrades remembered him fondly, 
and treasured up the bits of advice which he had given them at their 
work or the careless pleasant words which had dropped from his lips in 
idle hours. " Ah ! let us talk about Bastien ! " wrote the distinguished 
master, M. Dagnan Bouveret, soon after his brother artist's death. " He 
is always present with me, and whenever I paint a new picture I ask 
myself if it would have satisfied him." Fortunately for us, several of 
his friends have recorded their impressions of the man. In 1885, M. 
Andre Theuriet, the well-known novelist and poet, published a small 
volume bearing the title of " Jules Bastien-Lepage, L ' homme et T artiste " 
and giving a brief memoir of his life as well as several of his letters. At 
the same time, two articles from the pen of M. de Fourcaud, appeared in 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 9 

the Gazette des Beaux Arts, in which this accomplished critic gave the 
world some interesting recollections of Bastien-Lepage, which he after- 
wards published in a more complete form in M. Baschet's series of Les 
Maitres Modernes. To another intimate friend, the sculptor Auguste 
Saint Gaudens, we owe the bronze relief here reproduced. It was executed 
in 1880, and inscribed with the words " A Token of Friendship," and is 
at once an excellent likeness of the painter and a fine work of art. A 
glance at Bastien-Lepage's origin and at the circumstances of his life 
will help us better than many pages of criticism to understand the full 
meaning and intention of his works. For his art was the spontaneous 
outcome of his home life. His impressions of nature were taken from 
the woods and fields of his native Lorraine, his models were the peasants 
of Damvillers, the men and women whom he had known from his child- 
hood, and all his larger and more important pictures were painted in his 
home — that home to which he clung with a love so passionate and true, 
and where he sleeps to-day in the green churchyard under the apple- 
trees. 



II 

Jules Bastien-Lepage, the painter of Jeanne d' Arc and of Les Foins 
was born on the first of November, 1848, at Damvillers, a village near 
Verdun, in the department of La Meuse. Three hundred years before, 
Damvillers had been a town of some importance. During the reign of 
Francis I. it was strongly fortified, and was besieged on one occasion by 
the Fariperor Charles V. In the seventeenth century its towers and 
bastions were razed to the ground by order of Louis XIV. Now the 
last remnants of the old walls have crumbled into dust, and apple 
orchards bloom in the grass-grown trenches. A clear stream, the 
river Tinte, flows through the green meadows, and vine-clad hills rise 
in gentle slopes on either side of the valley, where the red roofs cluster 
round the village church with the low spire, which figures in more than 
one of Bastien-Lepage's paintings. But to those who know his works, 
the whole character of the place wears a curiously familiar aspect. The 
broad lines of the landscape, the plains bounded by undulating hills, 



io JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

the very shape of the houses in the village street seem to recall his 
pictures. 

A straight^road, fringed with tall poplar trees, leads to the market- 
square, where the little life of the place centres. Here the diligence 
from Verdun stops in front of the village inn, and here at one corner of 
the Grande Place is the house which belonged to the artist's father, 
Claude Bastien. A roomy comfortable house it is, but as unpretending 
as any of its neighbours, with the same white walls, drab shutters, and 
brown tiled roof. The front door opens into a large kitchen, where 
bright copper pans are ranged along the high mantelpiece, and rows 
of the coloured earthenware of the district fill the cupboard shelves. 
Beyond, is the parlour, where on winter evenings the young artist made 
his first studies with chalk and pencil, while his father read and his 
mother mended the household linen. Like most of the inhabitants of 
Damvillers, the Bastiens were small peasant-proprietors, who cultivated 
their own fields, and lived on the produce. Their home was shared by 
Jules' grandfather, old Lepage, a retired tax-collector, whose small 
pension helped to keep the modest household in comparative ease. 
They were frugal and thrifty souls, working hard to make an honest 
living, anxious above all to bring up their two sons well, and give them 
a good start in the world. But if their fare was plain, and their manner 
of life homely, their tastes were not without refinement. The father 
was fond of drawing, the mother embroidered patterns of her own 
tracing, and the old grandfather took the greatest delight in his garden, 
which was always the gayest to be seen in Damvillers. When, at a 
very early age, Jules began to show signs of a taste for drawing, his 
father determined to cultivate the boy's talent in the hope of qualifying 
him when he grew up, for some post in the Administration of forests 
and highways. So he himself gave Jules his first drawing lessons, and 
every night before the child went to bed, he was required to make a 
careful copy of the lamp or inkstand on the table, or any other object 
in the room. To this early training the painter himself always 
attributed that habit of close observation and exact accuracy which 
distinguished him in after years. At the age of eleven he left the 
communal school to go to the College of Verdun. Here his talent for 
drawing soon attracted the notice of his teachers, and the college drawing 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 



1 1 



master, a professor named Fouquet, one day told him that he ought to be 
an artist. The idea took possession of the boy's mind, and soon became 
a settled determination. At home or at school, he was always drawing, 
on the margin of his lesson books, on the doors and walls. Even the 
palings of his father's orchard, it is said, bore traces of the charcoal 
sketches in which his early attempts at composition were made. The 
little albums which contained his first sketches were carefully preserved 




Pen-and-ink Sketch of the Artists Grandfather 



by his mother. On one page was a drawing of his little brother Emile 
sitting in a toy cart, which was done by Jules when he was only five 
years old, on another, a more elaborate attempt to represent Abraham 
sacrificing Isaac. When, at the age of eighteen, he left college, he 
informed his parents that he wished to go to Paris and study painting. 
This startling announcement filled his family with consternation. His 
father was horrified to think that Jules, whom he had destined for an 
official career, and for whose education many sacrifices had already 



12 



JULES BJSTIEN-LEPAGE 



been made, should throw away all his chances in this reckless way. On 
the one hand, there was the prospect of a long and expensive training, 
and, at best, a very precarious means of livelihood. On the other, there 
was the certainty of an honourable position, with regular pay from 




The Artist's Father. Bust in bronxe. 



Government, and a modest pension in old age. So Claude Bastien 
argued, not without a show of reason on his side. The boy's grand- 
father was entirely of the same opinion. Only the kind mother took 
her son's part. In spite of her horror of Paris, and her dread of the 
dangers to which he might be exposed in the great city, she could 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 13 

not bear to see his ardent hopes disappointed. " If it is really Jules' 
wish," she pleaded gently. But still his father was inflexible. 

Fortunately for the painter at this crisis, a relation who held an 
influential position in the Bureau des Postes, intervened and proposed a 
plan which pleased all parties and was eventually adopted. By his 
advice, Jules passed an examination which qualified him for the post of 
assistant in the Post-Office, and towards the end of the year 1867, was 
summoned to Paris as supernumerary clerk. Here he worked hard during 
the next six months, sorting letters from three to seven in the early 
morning, and attending the courses of instruction at the Ecole des Beaux 
Arts in the intervals of office hours. But the difficulty of reconciling the 
serious study of art with the daily routine of official duties was great and 
the strain soon proved beyond his strength. He fell ill, and it became 
plain that he must choose between the two professions. As far as Jules 
himself was concerned, the choice had been already made. His friends 
on their part now saw that further opposition would be useless and 
acquiesced cheerfully in his decision. His grandfather gave all he could 
spare out of his small savings, and his mother went out to field work to 
earn money for Jules. At the same time, the Council-General of the 
department of La Meuse voted a sum of six hundred francs towards his 
support. When all was reckoned the young student had barely 
enough to keep body and soul together. But his native courage and 
good spirits, together with that invincible tenacity of purpose which was so 
marked a feature of his character stood him in good stead, and helped 
him through the trials and difficulties of the next few vears. 



Ill 

In 1868 Jules Bastien entered the Ecole des Beaux Arts as a regular 
student, and was received as a pupil in the atelier of M. Cabanel. At that 
time the studio of this versatile and prolific painter was the most popular 
in Paris. He was singularly successful in developing talent of the 
most varied kind, and in the Salon of 1886 no less than 112 exhibitors 



i 4 JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

are said to have signed themselves pupils of Cabanel. The experienced 
teacher soon discovered the talent of the young student from La Meuse, 
who rapidly took the foremost place among his fellows. But Bastien him- 
self had little sympathy with the system of the schools, and at the end of 
a few months he began to work on his own line, and was seldom seen in 
the atelier. In 1870 he made his first appearance in the Salon. The 
portrait which he exhibited on this occasion was that of a young architect 
in a dark-green coat, sitting at work at a table. There was vigour 
enough in the painting and in the character of the head to attract atten- 
tion, and the artist would probably have received other commissions had 
it not been for the war which broke out that summer. He remained 
in Paris during the siege, and served in a company of franc -tireurs, 
under the captaincy of the painter Castellani. One day, when he was 
gallantly fighting in the trenches, he was wounded in the chest by a 
shell which exploded near him, and on the same day, by a strange 
fatality, another shell struck his modest atelier in the boulevard of 
Montparnasse, and made a hole in a picture which he had lately 
painted, of a nymph bathing her feet in a stream of running water, 
called La Source. The canvas was ruined and the artist remained 
in hospital until the end of the siege. When the Peace of Versailles 
was signed, he went home to Damvillers in a weak and suffering 
state to recruit his shattered health in his native air. There he 
remained enjoying the quiet of the country, and painting the portraits 
of his neighbours for practice, until the close of the year. When 
he returned to Paris, early in 1872, times were bad, and the struggle 
for life was harder than ever before. But he persevered with the 
same unflinching resolution as before. He painted portraits of his friends 
for small sums, tried his hand at illustrating newspapers, and when he 
was at his wits' end for a job, decorated fans and painted signs for 
shopkeepers. Many years afterwards, when Bastien-Lepage was a 
great man, the landlady of a restaurant in the Quartier-Latin, much 
frequented by struggling artists, Mademoiselle Anna, by name, would 
point with pride to a picture hanging over her door, called La 
Jeunesse doree, representing a green forest glade, where lovers whisper 
under the boughs, and laughing cherubs flit in and out among the 
trees. That panel, she told her customers, was the work of Bastien- 



JULES B ASHEN-LEPAGE 15 

Lepage, who had painted it for her, in payment of a debt of three 
hundred francs. 

One day, a seller of perfumes and cosmetics asked Bastien to supply 
him with a pictorial advertisement which should help the sale ot his 
goods. After some deliberation, the artist produced a little picture in 
the style of Watteau, representing the fountain of perpetual youth, 
springing up in a green meadow where bright-haired loves gambol, and 
youths and maidens come hand in hand to drink of the waters which 
are to make them for ever young and fair. When the work was 
finished, Bastien asked his employer's leave to send it to the Salon. 
The shopkeeper made no objection, but insisted that the name of the 
cosmetic which he wished to advertise, and the address of his shop 
should be painted on a coloured scroll in the upper part of the picture. 
Bastien declined to agree to this condition and the bargain fell through. 
The painter lost his money, but his picture was exhibited in the Salon 
of 1873, under the title Au Printemps. The graceful and delicate 
fancies of Puvis de Chavannes had for him a singular fascination at 
this period of his career, and his next picture bore marked signs of 
this master's influence. This was another little panel, in the same style 
as the last, and bore the name of La Chanson du Printemps. The 
subject was a little peasant-girl with a basket of violets on her arm, 
sitting on a grassy bank at the edge of a wood, listening with wondering 
eyes to the songs of the dancing cherubs who flutter about her on 
butterfly-wings and pipe to her of the coming of Spring and the 
awakening of Love. This time a touch of realism came to mingle 
with the poet's fancy. The girl was a peasant-child from the artist's own 
village, and in the distance behind her were the green meadows and red- 
roofed houses of Damvillers. This graceful little picture attracted con- 
siderable attention at the time, and when the Salon closed, it was bought 
by the State and placed in the Luxembourg. But in that same Salon 
of 1874, there was another picture by the same hand which created 
an unexpected sensation. This was the large portrait of the artist's 
grandfather which he exhibited under the title of Mon Grandpere, 
and signed with the name Jules Bastien-Lepage. The young painter 
had adopted the name of Lepage, out of gratitude and respect to 
his mother's family, and from this time he used it in addition to his 



1 6 JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

own surname. During the summer holidays he had conceived the 
idea of painting the portrait of the old man sitting out-of-doors 
under the trees of his garden, among the flowers which he cultivated 
with so much care. With that scrupulous veracity which was an 
essential part of Bastien-Lepage's character, he has represented his grand- 
father in his common suit of clothes, exactly as he might have been 
seen on any day of the week at Damvillers. The old man wears a faded 
brown vest and worn gray trousers. His velvet cap is on his head, 
his spectacles on his nose, and his large horn snuff-box and blue check 
handkerchief are laid on his knee. His hands are crossed before him, 
and he leans back in his favourite arm-chair with a satisfied, amused 
expression on his kindly old face. There is no attempt at pose, no 
seeking after effect. The picture is painted in clear, ordinary daylight, 
without any strong contrasts of light and shade, of colour, or of style. 
Yet the whole thing is instinct with life, and the figure stands out with 
vivid actuality against the background of pale green leaves and grass, 
The appearance of this striking portrait by the hand of a new painter 
was the event of that year's Salon. On the day when the doors were 
opened, a crowd gathered before the picture, and the popular interest in- 
creased, when it became known that it was the work of a young student 
of the Ecole des Beaux Arts. The next day all the papers were talking 
of Mou Grandpere, and Bastien-Lepage woke up one morning to 
find himself famous. The novelty of the artist's conception and his 
unconventional methods naturally provoked discussion. But the 
accuracy of the drawing and the power of the painting were beyond 
dispute, and everyone felt that great things might be expected from an 
artist who could interpret nature in so vigorous and penetrating a 
manner. 



IV 

M. Theuriet has told us how he met Bastien-Lepage for the 
first time, standing before his portrait of Mon Grandp"ere in the 
Salon. Himself a native of La Meuse, the writer hailed the 
artist with pleasure as a fellow-countryman. He describes Bastien- 




/.Sas&fft -Jiqfaz&e /una-f. 



oJAe (Zrtisis (;/\?/i<y'a//h'/' ' 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 17 

Lepage as very youthful in appearance, small and fair, with a slight 
and boyish but active and muscular frame. His forehead was square, 
his nose short and flattened, his light wavy hair fell in a thick tuft 
over his brow, his gray-blue eyes were keen and piercing. Sincerity 
and determination were written in every line of his face. His speech 
was as honest and straightforward as his countenance. After the first 
shyness had worn off, he gave free rein to his natural gaiety and became 
the best and most sociable of companions. The energy and determi- 
nation of his character, his scrupulous conscientiousness in his work 
and scorn of artifice and convention earned for him the name of Le 
Primitif, which was frequently applied to him by his comrades. The 
same originality and independence marked all his views of art. " People 
pay me compliments about these fables," he said when a well-known 
critic, M. de Fourcaud admired his graceful little allegories — " but I 
have not yet found the work which I mean to do." And when his 
companion pressed him further as to his intentions, he replied without a 
moment's hesitation : " Nothing is good but truth. People ought to 
paint what they know and love. I come from a village in Lorraine. I 
mean, first of all, to paint the peasants and landscapes of my home exactly 
as they are. I will also paint a Jeanne d'Arc, a real Jeanne d'Arc, who 
shall belong to our ' coin de terre,' and not to my atelier. Afterwards, 
when I have had time to study the people in Paris, I shall try and paint 
Paris life, but that will not be for a long time to come. My comrades 
praise my portraits. I am proud of that, for I believe that everything 
in nature, even a tree, even still-life should be treated as a portrait. 
You never find two objects which look exactly the same. The work 
of talent is to distinguish between the two, and to point out what is 
peculiar to each one. That is my whole theory of art." 

He never could reconcile himself to the system of teaching in the 
Ecole des Beaux Arts, and on one occasion in after years, he expressed 
himself very strongly on the subject to M. de Fourcaud. 

" I have no complaints to make of any one. On the contrary, I 
retain the most grateful recollection of many persons who owed me 
nothing, and who gave me a great deal. I learnt my trade in Paris and 
I have not forgotten that. But, to speak frankly, I did not learn my 
art there. The Ecole des Beaux Arts is managed by masters whose high 

B 




La Communiante. 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 19 

qualities and devotion I should be the last to ignore. But is it my fault, 
if I found in their atelier the only doubts which have ever perplexed me? 
When I tried for the Prix de Rome, the newspapers described me as 
independent and free from the bondage of traditions. Alas ! I am not 
yet as free from them as I should like to be ! When I came to Paris, I 
knew nothing at all, but at least I was ignorant of the heap of formulas 
with which you are perverted there. You wish to paint what you see, 
and instead of this, you are urged to aim at an unknown ideal, that is to 
say, to imitate old pictures more or less. I made daubs, in the schools, 
of gods and goddesses, of Greeks and Romans, of whom I knew nothing, 
which I did not understand and only laughed at. I used to say to 
myself that this might be great art, and now I sometimes ask myself 
what good have I got out of all this training. I do not go so far as to 
say that you ought to paint absolutely nothing but what you see in every- 
day life, but I do say this : if you take subjects from ancient history, at 
least let them be represented in an altogether human manner, exactly as 
you see the same things happen around you. What a pity it is, to be 
initiated, whether you like it or not, into certain traditions and a certain 
routine of work, under pretence of training ! It would be so much 
simpler to teach you how to handle brush and palette, without telling 
you of Michelangelo and Raphael, of Murillo and Domenichino. Then 
you would go home to Brittany, or Gascony, to Lorraine or Normandy, 
wherever you came from. There you would quietly draw the portrait of 
your own province, and when one morning, by chance, after reading some 
book, you were seized with the wish to paint the Prodigal Son, or Priam 
at the feet of Achilles, or anything else of the same kind, you would 
imagine the scene after your own fancy, free from recollections of picture 
galleries, but set in a frame of your own country, with the best models 
you could find at hand, as if the old story were a thing of yesterday. 
In that way you would succeed in animating art with a true life, and 
would make it beautiful and touching for all the world. That is the aim 
towards which I press with my whole strength. As long as I stay at 
Damvillers, I think myself sure of my ground, but in Paris there are 
moments when I can see nothing clearly." 

The longer Bastien-Lepage lived, the deeper and more firmly- 
rooted his convictions on this subject became. One day, when he 

b 2 



20 JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

had reached the height of his fame, a young artist who was a native 
of a distant province of France, was brought to him by a friend 
and showed him one or two small pictures which he had carefully 
imitated from Bastien-Lepage's own works. The painter was on the 
point of starting for Damvillers, and replied with a touch of impatience : 
" You wish me to tell you what I think ! Well, you know how to 
paint, but you are too fond of looking at other people's pictures, and 
most of all at mine. You tell me you belong to a village far away 
from here ? Then, why in the world do you stay in Paris ? Go 
and pack up, buy some canvas and colours and go home to your 
own country. Paint your house, your trees, your peasants, your 
bourgeois, just as they are, and bring your pictures back to next 
year's Salon. An artist who belongs to no part of the world is a 
useless being ! Believe me and go home." 

The freedom with which this advice was given might not always 
prove acceptable, but at least it was honestly meant. To the end 
of his life, Bastien-Lepage declared that he could think more clearly 
and paint better at Damvillers than he could in Paris. Yet it would 
be a mistake to suppose that he despised the work of the old 
masters. He had, it is true, a horror of conventional rules and fixed 
traditions in art, and always maintained that every artist ought tO' 
paint his subjects in his own way and from his own point of view. 
But he had the deepest admiration for the great art of the past, and 
some of his happiest hours in Paris were those which he spent in the 
Louvre. 

Naturally the great Dutch and German masters appealed to him 
in a special manner and were the object of his most attentive study. 
He would grow eloquent in front of Holbein's portraits and Rembrandt's 
Good Samaritan. " That is the way in which Scriptural or historical 
subjects should be treated," he exclaimed one day when he stood with 
M. de Fourcaud before this picture. " Let us simply try and bring 
them back to every-day life. A traveller has been picked up, half dead, 
on a heap of stones. He is carried to the nearest farm and at first 
the master hesitates whether he will take him in, but the servants 
come running up ; they see the wounded man in a fainting state. 
* Come, there is no time,' they cry. ' Let us receive this unhappy 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPJGE 21 

stranger and nurse him for he is badly hurt.' The mule remains 
standing at the door, faithful beast ! There must be a dog somewhere 
behind that wall. There you have your Good Samaritan. What is 
the use of trying to put the clock, back, at this time of day ?" Again, 
the portraits of the old French master, Clouet, never failed to kindle 
his admiration. Their fine brushwork and exquisite finish, above all 
their power of rendering the expression of a face by what he called 
sheer intensity of drawing, were to him a perpetual source or wonder. 
The simple directness and sincerity of the old Florentines and 
Umbrians touched him deeply, and he was fond of saying that if we 
moderns were ever to do anything in art, it must be by working 
in their spirit. What pleased him most was the human side of their 
art, their evident sympathy with childhood, their Jove for the birds 
of the air and the flowers of the field. The roses of Botticelli, the 
daisies and columbines of Perugino, the tall white lilies which Lippi's 
angels bear in their hands, and the starry blossoms which spring up 
in the grass of Angelico's Paradise, filled his heart with delight, and 
he was fond of showing how these simple natural beauties find a place 
in their representations of the world's greatest dramas, in front of the 
manger of Bethlehem and at the foot of the cross of Calvary. 

Among modern artists, the French landscape-painters of the school of 
1830 interested him deeply. But here again his judgments were as 
independent and as freely expressed as on other subjects. " Corot," he said 
to M. de Fourcaud one day, " helps you to breathe, but there is more air 
in his pictures than there is earth or rocks or trees. He dreams of the 
country all the while he is painting it. Daubigny is afraid of nothing. 
He paints — better than any one else I know — the green meadows, the 
beautiful fields where everything grows. He adores the running stream 
and the setting sun and the rising moon. Only he is exactly the 
opposite of Corot and does not dream enough." 

Good work, however different in practice and theory from his own, 
never failed to secure Bastien-Lepage's appreciation. This led him to 
admire the works of its most widely different artists, and to take pleasure 
both in the classic grace of Henner's nymphs and in the crude mastery of 
Manet's Bon Bock. For the last-named artist he had the keenest 
admiration, and always declared that a picture by Manet of a woman in 



22 JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

white, sitting on a green seat, had been the first really life-like bit of 
painting which he had seen in Paris. He reverenced Millet as a master 
who had dared to be true to his own convictions and to paint peasant life 
as he had actually seen and known it. But of all modern pictures none 
moved him as deeply as Courbet's famous Enterrement a Ornans. 
In his eyes, the group of weeping women seemed to surpass anything of 
the kind which had as yet been attempted. " There you have absolute 
truth," he exclaimed one day. " The truth of grief, a truth which we 
all of us feel. ' The emotion which such a sight arouses is enough to 
make one abjure academic art for ever. There is nothing really lasting, 
something that will endure, but the sincere expression of the actual 
conditions of life.' " 



V 

The theories which Bastien-Lepage poured out so freely in con- 
versation with his friends, and upon which, at times, he insisted with a 
vehemence that provoked opposition, soon found expression in his works. 
His success at the Salon of 1874 brought him fresh orders. M. Hayem, 
a wealthy connoisseur, whose notice had been attracted by the picture 
of his grandfather, employed him to paint his portrait. This was 
exhibited in the Salon of 1874, together with another work of far 
greater interest, his picture of La Communiante. This portrait of the 
little peasant-girl robed in white for her first communion, was another 
step in the same direction as Mon Grandpere, another resolute attempt 
on Bastien-Lepage's part to reproduce the life of the present, and the 
faces of the people about him. Certainly here nothing is idealised. The 
little dark-eyed maid is seated erect in her chair, wearing a frock of thick 
white muslin and a stiff white veil, and a wreath of flowers upon her black 
hair. She holds her missal before her, and her rough hands are stuffed 
into white gloves, cracked at the seams, in her efforts to pull them on. 
Yet every line of her figure, every detail in her dress, the conscious 
primness of her quaint little person, the very awkwardness with which 
she wears her new clothes, helps us to realise the importance and 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 23 

solemnity of the occasion. The look of innocent pride and wonder 
upon the child's face, the seriousness of her brown eyes, make us feel that 
for her at least this is a day that can never be forgotten. But what 
surprised the critics who had admired Bastien-Lepage's former work, was 
the delicacy and precision with which this little picture was painted. 
The sentiment was altogether modern, but the careful execution and 
minute finish recalled the works of the old Dutch and Flemish masters. 
This style, so utterly unlike that broader brushwork of his former 
portraits, marked a new departure in his art. La Communiante was, in 
fact, the precursor of that long series of small portraits, all marked by 
the same uncompromising sincerity and exquisite finish which were to 
prove one of Bastien-Lepage's most enduring titles to fame. 

But for the moment, other schemes absorbed his thoughts. That 
summer he entered the lists to compete for the Prix de Rome. The 
subject for the year was the Annunciation of the Nativity of Christ by 
an Angel to the Shepherds of Bethlehem. Here was an opportunity for 
carrying out one of his favourite theories, and representing an historical 
scene exactly as it might have happened at the present time, and as in all 
probability it did actually happen. In this respect the theory of this 
independent young French artist agreed with the principles, openly 
professed by the English Pre-Raphaelites, some thirty years before. 
They too, in the words of their champion Mr. Ruskin, had tried honestly 
" to represent things as they are or were or may be, instead of, according 
to the practice of their instructors and the wishes of their public, things 
as they are not, never were and never can be : this effort being founded 
deeply on a conviction that it is at first better, and finally more pleasing, 
for human minds to contemplate things as they are, than as they are 
not." This conviction it was which prompted young Rossetti to paint 
the youthful Virgin waking out of her sleep on her little white bed by 
the sudden vision of the Angel-messenger, and Hoi man Hunt to 
spend months at Jerusalem working at his L T/ie Scapegoat, and The 
Shadow of Death. The picture which Bastien-Lepage sent to the 
Palais des Beaux Arts that summer time was not unworthy of a place 
by the side of these great and serious works. His Annunciation to the 
Shepherds has never received the attention which it deserved, but 
whatever its defects of composition or technique may be, it was 



24 JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

undoubtedly a remarkable performance for an artist of six-and-twenty. 
His treatment of the subject, as might be expected, was absolutely 
unconventional. Yet there is a dignity and beauty in his rendering 
of the Gospel story, which lifts the actual event above the realm of 
the commonplace, and glorifies it with a touch of mystic poetry. In 
the darkening twilight, we see the group of brown-skinned peasants 
resting on the ground, by the fire which they have kindled on the open 
hillside. The ruddy glow of the firelight falls on their bewildered 
faces, as they wake out of sleep, startled by the angelic vision. 

One gray-headed man, sinking on his knees, adores the heavenly 
messenger ; another younger and more eager, bends forward with parted 
lips and outstretched arms as if seeking to know the meaning of this 
sudden apparition ; while a third is seen crouching in the background, 
apparently still overcome with drowsiness. Close by them on the dusky 
hillside the angel stands, a gracious figure in robes of white and a golden 
girdle. His face is fair and youthful, his form is human, only the 
shining aureole round his brow is there to remind us of his celestial 
birth. The words of the divine message are upon his lips, " Fear not, 
for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is 
Christ the Lord," and as he speaks he points to the far horizon where 
the light is breaking over the distant roofs of Bethlehem. 

When the doors of the Palais des Beaux Arts were opened on that 
uly morning and the crowd rushed in, eager for the first sight of the 
ten competing works, Bastien-Lepage's picture was hailed with a burst of 
applause. All day long people pressed round the place where it hung, 
and there was a general impression that he had won the prize. Unfortu- 
nately the jury with whom the decision rested, thought differently. 
Bastien-Lepage's Annunciation only received the second prize, and 
the Prix de Rome was awarded to Comerre, an older and more con- 
ventional artist. But that evening the art students who met at 
Mademoiselle Anna's well-known restaurant in the (juartier Latin 
crowned the picture of Bastien-Lepage which hung there with laurel 
wreaths in honour of the painter who was felt to be the true hero of the 
hour. The next morning a palm-branch was found fixed in the frame 
of his Annunciation by the other competitors and in silent acknowledg- 
ment of their rival's supremacy. And at the same time a laurel bough 



JULES BASriEN-LEPAGE 25 

was placed there, by the hand, it is said, of Madame Sarah 
Bernhardt. 

Bastien-Lepage felt the disappointment keenly, but he soon recovered 
his equanimity and resolved to try his fate once more in the following 
year, less for his own satisfaction than to gratify the parents, who had 
made so many sacrifices for his sake. 

But the subject for 1876, "Priam at the feet of Achilles," was less 
congenial to his taste, and he once more failed to win the prize. Yet 
the vigour and originality of the picture which he produced impressed 
the critics profoundly, and in the opinion of more than one of the best 
judges, deserved the prize. This time, however, the painter himself was 
comparatively indifferent as to the result. Other dreams were filling his 
brain, and with a sigh of relief he shook off the trammels of the schools 
and felt himself once more a free man. As a matter of fact, his failure 
on this occasion was the best thing that could have happened to him. 
There are painters for whom the sight of Italy is a necessity. Claude 
and Corot both found inspiration in the luminous skies and broad 
horizons of the Campagna. Bastien-Lepage's genius was cast in a 
different mould. Like Millet and Rousseau, his work lay nearer home, 
and he needed no other theme than the landscapes and the peasants of his 
native France. For him the woods of Reville and the meadows along 
the Tinte were more eloquent than the enchanted regions of classic story. 
Had he won the Prix de Rome and gone to study at the Villa Medici, his 
impressionable nature might easily have been diverted from its natural 
aims, and it might have been long before he found his true vocation. 
As it was, he went back to Damvillers that summer to work out the 
cherished dream of his youth and become the painter of peasant life in 
La Meuse. 



PART II 

"Paint these 
Just as they are, careless what comes of it, 
God's works — paint any one, and count it crime 
To let a truth slip."— Robert Browning. 

Bastien-Lepage as a peasant-painter — Tour in Argonne — "Z,' 'Absent " — "Les Feins " — Portraits 
of kis parents and brother — of Sarah Bernhardt — Albert Wolff — Madame Drouet — the 
Prince of Wales — -Visits to London — ''■Jeanne d'Arc" — " Saison d'Octobre" — Success 
of " Le Mendiant " and of " Pcre Jacques " — Plans new pictures — " V Amour au 
Village" — Illness — Visit to Algiers — Marie Bashkirtseff— Death — Exhibition oj his 
works in 1885 — General characteristics of his art. 

I 

For some time past, the rustic life of his country home had been 
absorbing Bastien-Lepage's attention. When he went back to Damvillers, 
after his first successes in Paris, the old scenes seemed to him full of new 
and deeper meanings. Here he felt was his true vocation. These fields 
and orchards in all the varying aspects of the changing seasons, these 
peasants with their rough hands and coarse clothes, were more interesting 
and attractive to him than all the tales of "old, unhappy, far-ofF things," 
which he had been asked to paint in the schools. Born and bred among the 
peasants of La Meuse, he was intimately acquainted with their ways and 
thoughts. Every detail of their lives was familiar to him. Their joys and 
sorrows, their fears and hopes, their times of labour, their hours of rest, he 
could tell them all by heart. He knew their characters and tempers, their 
slowness of speech and their awkward manners. And he knew, too, how 
deep down underneath the homely features and the stammering tongues, 



JULES BASriEN-LEPAGE 27 

lay hidden a poetry and a pathos of which the world never dreams. The 
strong attachment to the soil which brings the peasant who left home as 
a boy back to end his days in his native village, the pride of the labourer 
when he becomes the owner of a few acres, the lifelong devotion of one man 
to one woman, mutely expressed in the downcast eyes of the awkward lad 
and enduring through years of good and evil — these things were all well 
known to him. And he was determined to make others understand 
them too. The critics might sneer at his choice of subjects and call his 
types vulgar if they chose, they might have said the same of many an 
old master. 

" Most of Holbein's heads," he said one day to his friend Theuriet, 
"are not beautiful in the plastic sense of the word, but none the less they 
are singularly interesting. For, underneath their very ugliness and 
vulgarity, we find the thought and feeling that glorifies everything. The 
peasant, he too has his own fashion of being sad or joyous, of feeling and 
of thinking. It is that particular fashion which we must try and dis- 
cover. When you have found out and represented that, it matters little 
if your personages have irregular features, clumsy manners and coarse 
hands. They cannot fail to be beautiful because they will be living and 
thinking beings. The patient, conscientious study of nature — that is the 
only thing worth having ! " If only he could go deep enough down into 
the life of these simple folk, lay bare the thoughts of their hearts, and 
show the world that they were thinking and feeling men and women, moved 
by the same passions, and stirred by the same emotions as other human 
beings, he knew that his pictures must become interesting. For this would 
be true poetry and great art, and could not fail in its appeal to humanity in 
every age. But to make others feel what he felt, he must reproduce 
the actual scene, the light and colour of the landscape, the very atmo- 
sphere in which his people moved. He must make others see the flowers 
in the long grass, and the shadows on the sloping hillside, feel the 
burning heat of the sun drying the hay and ripening the corn, realise 
for themselves, in fact, some of those thousand different sensations of which 
he himself was hourly conscious. And to do this would demand years of 
patient and continual labour, the concentration of his whole faculties 
upon the work before him. 

This then was the task to which the young painter brought his powers 



28 JULES BASTIEN-LEPJGE 

of hand and brain, matured as they had been by his Paris training. He 
made himself an atelier in a garret of his father's house in the Grande 
Place at Damvillers, but most of his painting was done out of doors, in 
the garden or the meadows. He wandered up and down the fields and 
lanes, taking note of all he saw, and learning some fresh lesson at every 
step. Whatever the time of year might be, he was never idle. Each 
season in turn supplied him with new subjects for pen or pencil. In the 
spring he sketched the trees bursting into leaf, the gardens with their 
opening flowers and their young plants shooting out of the ground, the 
apple orchards laden with their wealth of rosy blossom. When the 
summer came he painted the tall seeds and grasses in the meadows, the 
haymakers and the reapers at their work. In autumn there was the 
vintage and the potato-gathering, in winter the hoar frost and the snow. 
Endless was the variety of subjects with which he filled his sketch-books, 
during the quiet months which he spent at Damvillers. The mowers 
sharpening their scythes under the hedgerow, in the half-mown meadow, 
the shepherd taking shelter under a spreading beech tree from the blazing 
heat of the noonday sun, the vine-dresser digging the ground between 
the rows of vines, all find a place in these pages. On one sheet we see a 
pecheur de grenouilles wading up to his knees in the marshy swamp on the 
edge of the rush-grown pond, on another we see a fire which has broken 
out at midnight in the village, and has brought the whole population out 
into the street. He shows us the peasant going to visit his field in his 
leisure hours on Sunday, and paints the village street at the evening hour 
when the tired labourer wends his way slowly home and the lights are 
twinkling in the window of the house where the good wife is busy 
preparing her husband's supper. Sometimes he sketches the women at 
work in the kitchen, or washing their clothes in the river. Sometimes 
he paints them kneeling devoutly at their prayers, or else some fleeting 
ray of sunlight on the roofs, some chance reflection in a clear pool of 
water has caught his eye, and he stops to jot down the colours of the 
bright clouds chasing each other across the sky at early dawn or the 
mysterious effect of the evening shades descending over wood and field. 
In one study we see a mass of rolling white clouds, floating across a deep 
blue summer sky, with a plough standing in the foreground and a wide 
stretch of brown arable land beyond. In another, the graceful boughs 



JULES BASriEN-LEPAGE 29 

of a slender ash tree are clearly defined against the midnight sky, under 
a long trail of luminous cloud. But whether he gives us sunsets or 
moonlight effects, studies of sky or landscape, the forms of hill and 
cloud, and the character of trees and plants are alike indicated with the 
same close observation. 

The simplest incidents often supplied him with subjects. A beggar 
standing at the hall door, a little peasant-girl watching her cow graze by 
the side of the road, a man crossing the meadow and leaving the track of 
his footsteps in the long grass, a child crying or a ragged boy at play- 
these are some of the impressions which he records with a few strokes of 
his pen, or a hasty dash of colour. Sometimes he sketches a wounded 
stag which has come to die on the edge of a reedy pool in the heart of 
the autumn woods, sometimes a boar-hunt in the forest, sometimes merely 
a bunch of spring-flowers or a dead robin. But in the summer of 1876, 
Bastien-Lepage's thoughts were already occupied with his picture of Les 
Foins, and many were the studies which he made of haymakers either at 
work or else resting from their labours in the noonday heat. Often the 
same woman appears in half-a-dozen different attitudes, lying in the grass 
or leaning upon her rake, looking towards us or turning her back on us. 
One of his best-known drawings which has often been reproduced under 
the name La Faneuse, is that of a peasant-girl walking home through 
the meadows with her rake on her shoulder, and turning round to look 
at the other haymakers at work and at the loaded waggons under the 
poplar-trees by the river. Her face is turned away, we only see the back 
of her head and the tresses of hair loosely coiled together, but the whole 
figure is admirably expressive. In this finely-grown, strongly built young 
woman, with her thick wrists and ankles and her short homespun skirts, 
we have a true type of the Meuse peasant, sturdy of frame and stolid 
in nature, accustomed to hard labour from her youth, but not without a 
certain dignity and consciousness of honest independence in her bearing. 
In these early days, Bastien-Lepage painted the portraits of his father and 
mother, which were exhibited in the Salon of 1877. Both of his parents 
took the greatest pride in his work, and were never tired of telling their 
friends that Jules' name was in all the Paris papers, although the boy 
himself declared that this meant very little and was not worth talking 
about. His father liked to watch him at his painting, and generally had 



3° 



JULES B A ST 1 EN-LEPAGE 



some criticism to offer. Even the old grandfather had his opinion to 
give, and would leave his work and pause before Jules' easel for a few 
minutes to see how the boy was getting on, and then go back to his 
flower-beds. The freedom of this country life exactly suited the painter. 
Often, on his return from visits to Paris, he would ramble about the 

fields and woods for whole days 
with his hands in his pockets, and 
drinking in the fresh air, the coun- 
try sights and sounds. On winter 
days he would take long shooting 
expeditions accompanied by his 
favourite dogs, and hunt the deer 
in the woods of Reville, or stroll 
along the river in search of wild 
duck till nightfall. Then he would 
set to work and paint for days 
together with the whole energy of 
his being. 

In the evening the family met 
round the parlour table. Jules and 
his brother Emile were busy with 
their pencils, while their father read 
the papers, their mother sewed and 
the favourite cat dozed on the 
knee of the old grandfather. Then 
Bastien-Lepage would put down 
ideas which had struck him in the 
course of the day, or divert him- 
self and his companions by making 
careful studies of a copper candle- 
stick or a felt hat, or any other 
object at hand. Often too, he would draw caricatures of his brother, 
representing him in a dozen different attitudes, each more comical than 
the last. Or else, like Leonardo before him he would cover whole 
sheets of paper with grotesque heads, talking and laughing all the 
while. Many were the pen-and-ink sketches which he made of this 




Sketch of the Artist 's Grandfathe 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 



3i 



happy family party, sitting round the table with the lamp in the centre ; 
many the clever portraits which he took of his old grandfather, reading 




The Artist's Grandfather. 



the newspaper in his arm-chair, or resting his elbows on the table, 
or else lying fast asleep on his couch. 



32 JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

The friends who came from Paris, Andre Theuriet or Charles Baude 
the engraver, and saw Bastien-Lepage in his home used to say that there 
were two different persons in him, the man of Paris and the man of 
Damvillers. The one they describe as grave and silent, impatient of 
interruption and occasionally hasty in word and manner. The other, 
they said, was gentle and charming, full of kindly forethought for his 
friends and parents, and brimming over with fun and laughter. They 
saw him at home the life and soul of the family circle, they went with 
him on his country walks and shared his delight in the beauty of trees 
and flowers. They tell us with what genuine pleasure he would hunt for 
the first spring violets or delicate wood anemones, or listen to the carol of 
the March blackbird. Often he would stop to pick the chicory or 
hemlock plant, the field daisies, and blue cornflowers, which he loved to 
set in the foreground of his pictures, or point out the decorative forms of 
some bud or leaf. " Ah ! how beautiful ! " he exclaimed, one spring day, 
when he had found a plant of the wild Christmas rose growing in the 
woods. " How I should like to make a careful study of these finely-cut 
dark green and brown leaves, with their green stem and cluster of pale 
flowers tinted with rose pink. What exquisite shapes, and what a variety 
of tender shades ! That is what they ought to give the children of our 
drawing-classes to copy, instead of that eternal and detestable Diana 
of Gabii ! " 



II 



In the autumn of 1876, M. Theuriet paid a visit to Bastien-Lepage 
at Damvillers, and took a walking-tour with his two brothers in the 
picturesque district of Argonne. Together they visited the ancient 
glass-works of les Islettes, founded by a guild of artists as far back 
as the fifteenth century, and explored the forest of Beau lieu. They saw 
the street of Varennes where the ill-fated Louis XVI. and his family 
were stopped in their memorable flight, and they penetrated through 
narrow valleys and rocky gorges to the ruined Abbey of La Chalade. 
Finally they reached the hermitage of Saint Rouin, the Irish Apostle 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 33 

who had evangelised the district of Argonne in the seventh century and 
lies buried in this secluded spot in the heart of the forest. 

Here they witnessed a pilgrimage, and, much to their amusement, 
narrowly escaped being taken up as Prussian spies. The German invasion 
had made a deep impression on the simple folk of the district, and the 
presence of these strangers, who quoted German phrases, and discussed 
Goethe, had already aroused suspicion. In one village where Bastien- 
Lepage took out his paint-box and brushes, an old woman had asked him 
in a voice of terror if he was going to bring the Prussians back again. 
But he had only treated the notion as a good joke and had never dreamt 
of any serious trouble on this score. Now, the sight of the assembled 
crowds at the open-air mass in the meadow at Saint Rouin moved him to 
make another sketch. An altar bearing a silver cross and candles and 
decorated with green boughs and flowers had been raised on the grass 
under the forest-trees, and a bishop in purple robes " exactly like a 
magnificent violet iris" was officiating, attended by scarlet acolytes. The 
effect of all this rich colouring and the play of sunlight and shadow on 
the picturesque groups of pilgrims kneeling or standing on the grass 
with their banners charmed the painter's eyes, and as soon as sermon and 
mass were over, he set to work to reproduce the scene on canvas. But 
when the procession of priests and choristers had left the spot and the 
pilgrims were dispersed, a crowd collected round the artist and malignant 
whispers were heard among the country people. A report had already 
got about that these strangers were Prussian spies, who were making 
plans of the country, and the village authorities were prepared to take 
active measures. Presently a forester stepped forward, and in the name 
of the law, demanded the gentlemen to produce their papers. An 
animated discussion followed, during which Bastien-Lepage alone kept 
his presence of mind and continued his drawing. But the friends, 
unable to produce anything but their cards, were on the point of being 
arrested as suspicious characters, when fortunately one of the party was 
recognized by an old acquaintance, who hailed them as compatriotes. 
So the adventure ended happily and Bastien-Lepage was allowed to carry 
off his sketch in triumph, much to the disappointment of the in- 
habitants, who thought they had made an important capture that would 
redound greatly to the honour of their village. 

c 



34 JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

All through this expedition, Bastien-Lepage was in the highest 
spirits. In spite of the heavy rain which repeatedly interrupted his 
work, he made seven or eight drawings, and beguiled the long evenings 
spent at village inns by singing popular songs at the top of his voice. 
And he talked freely with his friends of his hopes and plans for the 
future. He intended to paint a great series of pictures, illustrating the 
whole cycle of peasant-life. Sowing and reaping, ploughing and digging, 
haytime and harvest, the vintage and the fruit-gathering, were each to 
form part of the scheme. Love and marriage, birth and death were to 
have their place in the story. Together with Theuriet he would publish 
a series of twelve compositions entitled Les Mois Rustiques. His 
friend should write the letter-press and he would adorn the pages with 
■drawings of peasant-life and labour, and with the flowers and fruits of the 
different seasons. And then he would carry out his favourite dream and 
paint a Jeanne d'Arc, of his own "coin de terre," as well as another 
great picture, which should have for its subject, La Mise au 'Tombeau 
and represent the Maries weeping over the body of Christ. He had 
already made several preparatory sketches for this work, including a 
water-colour study of the dead Christ, but before he began the picture 
was anxious to see the celebrated Entombment at Saint Mihiel, the master- 
piece of Ligier Richier, a Lorraine sculptor of the sixteenth century. 
So he left his friends on their return journey to visit the church containing 
this marble group, which he described in a letter to his friend Charles 
Baude as the most touching work of sculpture that he had ever seen. 
'" France," he adds, " ought to be prouder and less ignorant of this great 
Lorraine artist." 

Meanwhile M. Theuriet had made the walk through the Argonne 
the subject of an article called " La Chanson du Jardinier," and sent 
a copy of the magazine in which it appeared, to Damvillers. " I must 
tell you " wrote Bastien-Lepage in return, " how much pleasure your 
article gave my parents and congratulate you on the portraits you have 
drawn of them. When the Revue arrived, we did not read the book, 
but tore it out of each other's hands and devoured it, over one another's 
shoulders. I will do my best, I assure you, to deserve the name of the 
Primitif ! Bravo ! for the songs ! for the sunny page of the Bishop's 
sermon ! — that great violet iris — how exactly you describe the scene ! 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 35 

But what more can I say, only that you have made me live the whole 
journey over again ! " 

M. Theuriet's article was afterwards republished in his volume of 
Sous Bois, and one of Bastien-Lepage's best-known drawings was destined 
to adorn the title-page. Eventually the book appeared without illustra- 
tions, but the drawing, which was evidently a recollection of the walking 
tour in Argonne, has been often reproduced, sometimes by the name 
V Absent, sometimes simply described as L 'Auberge. The scene 
represented is the interior of a village inn. In the background a group ot 
men seated at table are engaged in talking, drinking, smoking and playing 
cards ; while in the foreground we see a young woman, probably the ser- 
vant of the inn, who has set down her basket on the floor and retreated to 
a window overlooking the street, where she sits, leaning her head against 
the frame and watching for the form of her absent friend. There is no 
particular charm about her, she is simply a peasant girl in a coarse stuff 
gown and long apron. The whole beauty of the picture lies in her intent 
face, in the fixed yearning of her eyes, and the expectant air of her whole 
form, as she listens for the footstep which tarries still. The face of that 
poor peasant girl is in its way as much a triumph of expression as 
that of Jeanne d'Arc herself, and is a sufficient answer to the critics 
who say that Bastien-Lepage was a painter devoid alike of poetry and of 
feeling. 

But those joyous autumn days were to have a melancholy ending. 
When the painter wrote again to his friend, it was in a sadder strain. 
His father had died suddenly of congestion of the lungs. It was the 
first break in the happy family circle, and Jules felt the blow keenly. 

" We were too young to lose so good a friend, and for all my 
courage, the blank, the awful blank fills me at times with a sense of 
despair." " Happily his memory is left us," he wrote to another friend, 
M. Victor Klotz, " and what a memory it is ! the purest and best that 
there could be. He was goodness and unselfishness personified, and he 
loved us so well ! But what can we do ? Nothing but try to fill up the 
gap with a great deal of love for those who remain and who care for us, 
and keep up the remembrance of him we have lost, as well as work hard 
to drive away the one thought that is always present." 

Work indeed proved his one consolation, and the next year saw the 

c 2 



36 JULES BAST IEN-LEP AGE 

production of some of his most important works. He spent the winter 
months in Paris, engaged on a full-length portrait of Madame 
Lebegue, in a splendid court costume of Tudor date, and on another of 
his friend Theuriet. He was now settled in the Impasse du Maine, with 
his brother Emile, who was studying architecture, as his companion. 
Here he had a large atelier looking out on a garden with a single apricot 
tree which he liked, for the sake of the white blossoms which reminded 
him of Damvillers. The walls were hung with his own sketches and 
some Japanese curtains, and an old divan and a few stools were the only 
furniture. Here, M. Theuriet tells us, he used to appear every morning 
at eight o'clock, to find the painter but half awake, and after smoking a 
cigarette together Bastien-Lepage would set to work with fiery speed. 
Now and then he would stop and leave his seat and contemplate his 
friend's face in silence for several minutes without saying a word and 
then return to work with renewed vigour. The rapidity and boldness 
of touch with which he worked was marvellous. He always prepared 
the exact tone of his colour on his palette, and never put it on the 
canvas until he was certain of the effect that it would produce. In this 
way his painting won that peculiar crispness and freshness which has been 
often admired. He was also very particular about keeping his palette 
clean and tidy, declaring that he could not work unless his white was in 
the middle, between the blues and greens on one side and the reds and 
browns and yellows on the other. He generally managed to get the 
general effect of the picture at the first sitting, but after that he would 
work at it again and again for weeks together, always finding that some- 
thing more was wanted to make it perfect, and never quite satisfied with 
the result. 

The whole of that summer was devoted to his large open-air picture 
of Les Fohts, and his letters to M. Theuriet give some interesting 
details respecting its progress. 

In July he writes: "My picture, as yet, is not fully sketched out. 
But I may tell you that I am going to indulge in a revel of pearly tints ; 
half-dried hay and flowering grasses seen together in the sunshine, and 
producing the effect of some pale yellow tissue embroidered with silver 
threads. A few clumps of trees along the banks of the brook and in the 
meadow will stand out like dark spots and give the whole a Japanese 



JULES BASflEN-LEPAGE 37 

effect. ..." A month later he returns to the subject with fresh 
interest : 

August 15, "Your verses are just the sort of picture that I should 
like to paint. You make one feel the scent of the hay and the heat 
of the meadow. ... If only my hay smells as good as yours does, I 
shall be content. . . . My young peasant woman is sitting on the grass. 
Her arms are drooping, her face is red and hot, her fixed eyes have a 
vacant look. Her whole attitude is tired and worn out. She will, I 
think, give the idea of a true peasant, Behind, her companion is lying 
flat on his back, sleeping with his fists closed; and in the full sunshine of 
the meadow beyond, the peasants are going back to work again. At 
first, I had a great trouble in the composition of my picture, being 
anxious to preserve the actual aspect of a corner ot nature. There is 
nothing of a conventional arrangement here, no willow falling over the 
heads of the personages to frame in the scene. Nothing ot all that. 
My personages stand out against the half-dried hay. A small tree grows 
in the corner of the picture, to show that other trees are near, and that 
our peasants have come here to rest in the shade. The whole tone 
of the picture will be a very pale gray-green. . . ." 

And in September he tells Theuriet that the country people say hie 
figures are alive, a verdict which gratified him more than all the praises 
of the Paris world. In the following spring, Les Feins appeared at 
the Salon, and caused a great sensation there. The extraordinary force 
of the painting, the absolute reality of the two figures, the tired, panting 
woman, and the man sleeping with his hat over his eyes, and the way in 
which they stand out against the pale background, above all the wonder- 
ful effect of light and air in the picture, made an immense impression at 
the time. " I came into the room, without knowing what I should see," 
wrote Marie Bashkirtseff in her journal, " and stopped short before Les 
Foins as you would stop before a window which has been suddenly 
opened on the country." Several critics, as might be expected, accused 
the artist of heresy, and as he expected, reproached him with the 
coarseness and vulgarity of his types. But the younger men rallied 
round Bastien-Lepage, and hailed him with enthusiasm as the master of a 
new school and the painter of open-air life. 



38 JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 



III 

An artist who makes truth his first object and has a keen and 
penetrating faculty of observation is likely to excel in portraiture ; and 
so we find that Bastien-Lepage was no mere professional manufacturer of 
portraits, but a portrait painter of the very highest order. From the 
beginning of his career in Paris, his portraits had been popular among 
his brother-artists and every year increased his reputation in this direction. 
Commissions reached him from all sides. Editors and journalists, 
ministers of state and merchants, actors and beauties, came to him in turni 
and sat to him for their portraits. 

In the Salon of 1875. his portrait of the wealthy banker M. Simon 
Hayem, dressed in clothes of the latest Paris cut and fashion, was 
recognized as a living type of the rich merchant and thorough man of 
the world, who combined refined tastes with practical business qualities. 
That of M. Wallon, exhibited in the Salon of 1876, was a no less exact 
admirable likeness of this former Minister of Public Instruction, with 
his timid and careworn expression, although it was attacked for political 
purposes by his opponents. At the same time Bastien-Lepage painted 
several portraits of ladies, which were exhibited at the Cercle Volney. 
That of Madame Godillot attracted attention by the skilful manner in 
which the bright carnations of a fair complexion were relieved by the 
black velvet of her gown, while the refined charm of Madame Victor 
Klotz's dark eyes were heightened by the simplicity of her white tulle 
folds and black robe. The portrait of Madame Lebegue, here repro- 
duced, is interesting as the only full-length life-sized portrait ever painted 
by the artist. The fantastic character of the lady's costume, the blue 
velvet train and white satin skirt excited ;the scorn of the critics, who- 
reproached the painter with this theatrical effect and called him a servile 
copyist of old pictures. At the same time they were forced to- 
acknowledge the marvellous skill with which he had treated the rich 
details of old brocade and lace in Madame Lebegue's dress and the 




Portrait of Madame Lebegue. 



4 o JULES BASriEN-LEPAGE 

tapestry of the background. If any further proof of the independent 
and versatile nature of Bastien-Lepage's talent were needed, his detractors 
had only to turn to the double portrait of his father and mother in one 
frame, which hung in the same Salon. Here was a masterpiece which it 
was impossible to overlook and which imposed silence on the most 
cavilling tongues. The artist had represented his parents sitting on a 
low bench in the garden at Damvillers, in their every-day country dress, 
just as he had done in his grandfather's portrait. And as before, the 
effect he has chosen is one of plain daylight, without help from striking 
illumination of any kind. The whole charm of the pictures lies in the 
ease and simplicity of their treatment, in the affectionate feeling with 
which they are painted. In each case the individual character is 
admirably brought out. We see at a glance the frank manliness and 
kindliness of the father, the goodness and tenderness of the mother. In 
the opinion of artists Madame Bastien-Lepage's portrait is considered 
the painter's greatest technical triumph, because the structure and 
modelling of the face are so perfect. The features are plain and 
irregular, and there has evidently not been the faintest attempt at flattery 
on the part of the artist, but at the same time there is a look of lively 
intelligence and sweetness which makes the portrait far more profoundly 
charming than many a younger and prettier face. This characteristic 
picture is at once a touching tribute of filial affection and a worthy 
memorial of the devoted woman whom her son's friends describe as the 
best possible mother for an artist, skilled in all that makes the home, and 
yet quick to follow his moods and fancies, always thinking of others and 
only forgetful of herself. 

These earlier portraits of Bastien-Lepage were all on a large scale, 
generally about the size of life, and treated with a certain breadth of 
manner. But about this time he adopted an entirely different style, and 
began to paint a series of small portraits, varying from twenty to fifty 
inches in height and from twenty to forty in breadth. These little 
portraits were painted in the same style as his old picture La Communi- 
ante, and were marked by the same delicate brushwork and high degree 
of finish. It is wonderful to see how in a few square inches of canvas, 
the painter contrives to give a vivid impression of his sitter's personality, 
and of the atmosphere in which he lives. The whole of the man's outer 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPJGE 41 

and inner self, his habits and surroundings, his temper, character and 
condition of life are all brought before us at the same moment. "The 
man himself — what he was — not more, but to all conceivable proof of 




The Artist's Moth 



right, in all aspect of life or thought, not less. So far as it reaches, it 
contains the absolute facts of colour, form and character, rendered with 
an unaccusable faithfulness." 



42 JULES BAST I EN-LEPAGE 

Take for instance, one of these little portraits, which does not 
depend for interest, as others may, on the fame of the subject, that 
of his brother, the architect. M. Emile Bastien-Lepage, a small, 
fair-haired man, with the same square forehead as the painter, is 
seated in his ordinary gray morning suit at the table, resting his hands 
on some architectural plans which are spread out before him. Both 
hands and face are studied with the most careful attention, and the 
strong character and thoughtful expression of the countenance are 
admirably rendered. The colouring is very quiet throughout. There 
is a yellow curtain at the back of the head, and a small profile 
portrait of the artist's father hangs on the stamped leather of the 
wall behind. The light, as usual in the painter's works, is ordinary 
daylight, and the same high degree of finish is perceptible in every 
part of the picture. Yet in sober and tranquil accomplishment this 
little portrait can hardly be surpassed. 

Equally fine in its way is the portrait of M. Albert Wolff, the 
well-known journalist, sitting in the luxurious ease of his study, wearing 
red slippers on his feet and holding a cigarette in his hand, with a 
bronze of Barye at his side and a number of Figaro lying on the 
table before him. In M. Theuriet's thoughtful countenance and gray 
eyes we realise the imaginative power and poetic dreams of the 
thinker and author. In M. Andrieux's keen face and alert eye as he 
bends to listen to a report which is being read to him, we recognise 
the former prefect of police. Or, to take an instance of his power in 
another direction, there is the portrait which Bastien-Lepage painted 
in Victor Hugo's house, of the poet's faithful friend, Madame Juliette 
Drouet, and which has been described with good reason as " a miracle 
of likeness, of feeling, and of execution." At that time she was already 
slowly dying of cancer, and the traces of suffering are plainly seen 
in her drooping form, in the -deep lines of the brow and the pallor 
of the thin cheek, but the painte'r has caught and rendered the spiritual 
charm which lingered on her countenance to the end. This pathetic 
little picture was painted by Bastien-Lepage during the last years of 
his own life, when he himself was smitten by the same terrible disease, 
and the friends who watched the progress of the portrait, often wondered 
which of the two would be the first to go. 




M. Emile Bastien-Lepage. 



44 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 



But the most famous and the most actually beautiful ot all 
Bastien-Lepage's portraits is that of Madame Sarah Bernhardt. In 




Madame Drouct. 



its vivid sense of life and power, this portrait forms a strange contrast 
to that of Victor Hugo's white-haired friend. The great actress is 
painted in profile, sitting up in an erect attitude and looking down 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 45 

apparently rapt in thought, at a small statue of Orpheus which she 
holds in her hand. The creamy tones of her brocades, the snowy 
whiteness of the fur rug at her side and the bright locks of her wavy 
hair are all painted with rare delicacy. Both as a study of colour 
and of expression, this picture is equally remarkable. In some strange 
way the artist has been able to lay hold of the dreamy spell that 
floats about the enchantress. We see the magic of the down-dropped 
eye and hear the vibrations of that voice which has thrilled us all 
with its passion and its power. 

It is interesting to compare this well-known portrait of Sarah 
Bernhardt with another picture which is slighter indeed, but just as 
exquisite in treatment. It is that of a lady sleeping on her bed. Only 
the face and one hand are visible. But the expression of the slumbering 
face and the varied tints of white are beautifully given, while the 
surrounding objects — pillow, curtains, and counterpane — are all very 
slightly indicated and kept in a subdued light. This harmonv in 
white is another example of the variety of styles in which this artist 
worked and of the mastery which he attained in each of them. 
Like Rembrandt and other artists who have worked in different 
styles, Bastien-Lepage expressed himself most decidedly in the style 
adopted for the time being, as if it had been the only one he knew 
or could employ. Among the works in his brother's possession, there 
is a study of a naked man about the size of life seated on the ground, 
with his knees raised and his head and one hand resting upon them. 
This is interesting as a specimen of strong and rough brush-work, as 
opposite as possible to the workmanship of the portraits we have 
been considering. A critic who saw this study without knowing the 
artist of the work would naturally conclude that he was a painter of 
considerable manual power but altogether wanting in refinement. "The 
fact is," he said to an English friend who questioned him closely about 
this variety of style that was so curious a feature in his work, " I 
have no fixed rules and no particular method. I paint things just as 
I see them, sometimes in one fashion, sometimes in another, and 
afterwards I hear people say that my pictures are like Rembrandt or 
like Clouet." 

Whatever discussion Bastien-Lepage's works provoked during his 



46 JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

lifetime, his portraits received the most unqualified praise. They were 
the wonder of all the critics, the despair of all the artists. " C'est la vie 
meme ! c'est Tame," wrote Marie BashkirtsefF. " Et c'est d'une 
tacture qu'on ne peut comparer a rien, car c'est la nature meme. On 
est insense de peindre apres cela." We have only mentioned two or 
three of the most remarkable among the many portraits which he 
painted during his short career. He had told M. de Fourcaud that 
once he had finished his series of rustic pictures he meant to turn his 
attention to Parisian life and to paint the people he knew and saw 
there. Had he lived long enough to carry out this intention we 
might have had many more portraits of distinguished contemporaries 
from his hand. It is impossible not to feel what a priceless possession 
a gallery of such portraits would have been for the future historian 
of the nineteenth century. But this was not to be, and Bastien-Lepage's 
portraits of Albert Wolff, of Sarah Bernhardt, and of Madame Drouet, 
remain to show us what he might have done in this direction had 
he been allowed a longer span of life. 



IV 

In the spring of 1879, another great picture came from Damvillers. 
This was the well-known Potato Gatherers, or Saison d'Octobre, as 
it is sometimes called. The exact shape and size of this canvas are the 
same as Les Foins, almost square, and rather wider than it is high, the 
proportions being 1 meter 81 inches in height and 1 meter 99 inches in 
width. The scene is a potato-field, where two women are at work. 
The principal figure, a woman with a fine head and serious face, is 
stooping down to empty her basket into a sack on the ground, while her 
companion, a rosy-cheeked, smiling, peasant-girl of a common type, is 
kneeling down gathering potatoes at her side. Behind them is the broad 
plain with its patches of arable and grass land and a few leafless trees 
swayed to and fro by the wind, reminding us of the coming winter. 
There is no sunshine in the picture, but the rich browns and russet and 



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JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 



47 



greens of the soil under the gray sky, the clods ot earth and scanty 
herbage and wild flowers of the foreground are all exactly rendered, and 
help to give the same impression of the lonely countryside on a still 
October day. The picture is in some ways the most complete that 




The Potato Gatherers. 



Bastien-Lepage ever painted. There is the same sense of light and an- 
as in Les Foins, the same vigorous drawing and forcible realisation ot lite 
and character in the figures. But the harmony of colour is more perfect 
and the composition is more impressive, while the action and expression 



4* JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

of the stooping woman is finer than anything of the kind in his peasant- 
pictures. 

This time the artist's success was complete. The voices of envious 
detractors were silenced and Bastien-Lepage was recognised among 
the foremost of living painters. His Portrait of Madame Sarah 
Bernhardt was exhibited at the same time, and the painter's double 
achievement in these separate branches of his art commanded general 
admiration. 

" Bastien-Lepage," wrote the poet Theodore de Banville, " is the 
king of this year's Salon." 

Now that success had at length come to him, his first thought was of 
his parents. His father indeed was dead, but his mother and grandfather 
remained. They had shared his struggles and trials and must now share 
in his prosperity So he brought both of them to Paris and showed 
them the sights of the city. He took his mother to the Magasin du 
Louvre and told her to choose a new gown for herself. In vain she pro- 
tested that these silks and satins were too fine for her. Jules would have 
his way and chose the richest and stifFest black satin that he could find, 
saying, as he well might, that nothing could be too good for the mother to 
whom he owed so much. He took his grandfather for a walk on the 
Boulevards and showed him the chief theatres. But he was disappointed 
in the effect which the sight of these splendours had upon the poor old 
man. The old man yawned at the Opera and complained that he was 
tired of all the noise and bustle. So he soon. went back to Damvillers to 
grow his geraniums and asters, and said that he was too old to leave 
home again. 

That summer Bastien-Lepage paid his first visit to England. The 
fame of his portraits had already reached London, and he met with 
a cordial welcome. He never could learn a word of English, but the 
simplicity and bonhomie of the man delighted his admirers, and he 
made many friends. He visited our picture galleries, and was never 
tired of studying Rembrandt's etchings in the Print Room of the British 
Museum. He painted several portraits, amongst others one of Madame 
Alma Tadema, and sketched the banks of the river and the shipping 
in the Thames. And his last day in England was spent in making a 
drawing of the Prince of Wales. An amusing little storv is told with 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 49 

regard to this portrait. An Englishman whose name is well known in 
literary and artistic circles, and who had made friends with the young 
French artist, was at his club about six o'clock on Saturday evening, 
when he was told that a gentleman who could not speak a word of 
English wished to see him. The description, he felt at once, could 
apply to no one excepting Bastien-Lepage, and true enough, much to 
his surprise, he found the painter who had already taken leave of him 
and was leaving town that evening, awaiting him in a great state of 
perturbation. An hour before, he had received a note, of which he 
could not understand a word, but which, he was told, demanded 
his immediate attention. The letter, as his English friend informed 
him, came from Marlborough House, and contained an intimation to 
the effect that the Prince of Wales would give M. Bastien-Lepage a 
sitting on the following day. " That is impossible," replied the 
painter ; " my things are already packed ; I start in an hour's time 
for Paris." His friend begged him to defer his departure for a night, 
and pointed out the discourtesy of neglecting to obey, what was in fact, 
a royal command. Still Bastien-Lepage remained obdurate. He had 
promised his mother to be back at Damvillers on a certain day, and he 
could not disappoint her. And it needed all his friend's powers of 
persuasion to induce him to change his plans, and put off his departure 
until the following evening. In the end he yielded with a very bad 
grace, and presented himself at Marlborough House the next day. 
There he made a silver-point drawing of the Prince, and came away 
charmed with the genial manners and affable kindness of the Prince and 
Princess of Wales and their children, who had conversed with him in 
French, in what seemed to him the most natural manner in the world. 
"After all," he said to his friend, with an honest twinkle in his eye, 
" this time you were right." And that same evening he started on his 
way. back to France. From this sketch which he had taken at Marl- 
borough House, afterwards he painted his well-known portrait of the 
Prince of Wales in Holbein costume, with the masts of the Thames 
and the Tower of London in the background. 

On his return to France, Bastien-Lepage was decorated with the 
Legion of Honour, and hurried home to set to work on his next great 
picture. This was to be the Jeanne cf Arc, of which he had dreamed 

D 



50 JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

so long, a Jeanne d'Arc not of his atelier, but a true shepherdess of 
Lorraine. Before beginning his picture, he paid a visit to Domremy, 
accompanied by his faithful mother, and saw the birthplace of the 
heroic maid, and the cottage where she had lived. A complete series 
•of studies for this picture, seven or eight in number, were collected in 
the Exhibition of Bastien-Lepage's works, that was held after his 
death. And he has himself described the successive stages of thought 
by which he reached the form of composition which he finally adopted 
for his picture. 

Jeanne d'Arc, he began by saying to himself, was a simple and 
•devout maiden, of a thoughtful and contemplative nature. Often she 
was to be seen on her knees in the village church, praying to the virgin 
saints Katherine and Margaret, and the great archangel Michael, whose 
carved images adorned the altar of Domremy. Often as she knelt 
there, she thought of the distracted state of her poor country and of the 
misery which she saw around her. And as she prayed to God and the 
Saints for help, it seemed to her that a voice from heaven called her to 
go forth and save her unhappy land. Accordingly the artist's first idea 
was to represent Jeanne on her knees before the altar of the village 
church, and he made a beautiful drawing of the kneeling maid with her 
hands clasped in prayer and her head raised in a listening attitude. 
But then his love for open-air subjects got the better of his first resolve. 
He remembered how Jeanne d'Arc had said that the mysterious voices 
followed her everywhere, and haunted her both at her work and in her 
sleep. So he drew a coloured sketch on the walls of his studio, in which 
he represented his heroine, in the gray homespun bodice and brown 
skirt of the Lorraine peasants, spinning under the fruit-trees of her 
father's orchard. That orchard was the garden of Damvillers with the 
rose-bushes and the flowers and vegetables growing together under the 
pear-trees and the apple-trees, and wild flowers in the long grass of 
the meadow beyond. And in the background he painted the white 
walls and the red roofs of the cottage at Domremy. Still he was not 
satisfied. He altered Jeanne's attitude and represented her standing 
under an apple-tree with her right arm hanging down and her left hand 
grasping the leaves of a bush at her side. She has started to her feet, 
•overturning the spinning-wheel in her agitation, and listens with a rapt 



JULES BJSTIEN-LEPJGE 



5 1 



look on her face to the voices that are calling her by name. But it was 
some time before the artist could find the exact head he wanted for his 
Jeanne d'Arc. The type of face was to be that of the ordinary Meuse 
peasant-girl, with low brow, high cheek-bones, and square chin. But 
the right expression was hard to get, and he drew a dozen different 




-^ff^e^/zSy^^ 



'J cm n of Arc listening to the Voices. 



heads before he could satisfy himself. When at length he succeeded he 
wrote joyfully to his friend Charles Baude : "I really think I have 
found the head of my Jeanne d'Arc, and every one agrees that the resolve 
to start on her mission is well expressed in her face, while the simple 

D 2 



52 JULES B AST: JEN-LEPAGE 

charm of the peasant is retained. Her attitude is, I think, very pure 
and gentle, as it ought to be. . . . But I shall see you soon, and I had 
rather leave you the pleasure of the surprise which you will receive 
from the first sight of the picture. You will judge of it all the better 
and be better able to tell me what you think of it." 

But another difficulty remained to be solved. How were the unseen 
voices to be represented ? The painter's friends were all of opinion 
that the saints whose call she hears should be invisible. Suppress 
your phantoms, they said, and depend on the expression of Jeanne's 
face alone for the desired effect, and your conception will gain immensely 
in dramatic force and in artistic beauty. But this idea did not content 
Bastien-Lepage. The maid's vision, he felt, must be embodied in a 
palpable form, the saints must be present if the mystic meaning 
of Jeanne d'Arc's story was to be fully realised. At one time 
he thought of representing the gilt and painted images of the patron 
saints of Domremy, as hidden among the fruit-trees of the orchard. 
But bv degrees a happier inspiration prevailed. In the pure dreams 
of Jeanne, he reflected, the " blessed saints " would appear in a 
glorified form, with the light of paradise on their brows. And 
so he painted the great archangel in his shining armour and the 
white-robed virgins, dimly seen through the luminous mist that streams 
from heaven. 

The artist's friends hurried down to Dam vi Hers to see the work into 
which the artist had put so much of his heart. His own hopes were 
high, and great things were expected. But when Jeanne d" Arc 
ecoutant les Voix appeared in the Salon of 1880, there was a general 
feeling of disappointment. The strangeness of the composition repelled 
the public, and many of the painter's warmest admirers were puzzled. 
The representation of the voices was condemned on all sides, and the 
critics complained of a certain confusion of form and want of atmosphere 
and perspective in the picture. And in some measure, no doubt, they 
were right. The artist had tried to say too much, in his anxiety to 
be perfectly true to nature. The details of his background were too 
elaborately painted. The mass of tangled leaves and thorns had been 
allowed to come too far forward, and interfered with the effect of the 
central figure. And yet, in spite of these defects Bastien-Lepage's 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 53 

Jeanne cV Arc remains a great and noble picture. No one can look at 
that wonderful face and form without feeling how completely the 
artist has realised his own idea. His Jeanne is the true peasant-maid 
of Domremy, pure, and good, and simple, and wholly rapt in thoughts 
of the unseen. The figure itself is a masterpiece of drawing. The 
attitude of passionate attention, the upraised head, and wide-open blue 
eyes all tell the same tale. She is conscious of divine presences about 
her and hears the sound of heavenly voices, and she rises up, without 
delay, to follow the call of God. 

If Bastien Lepage had painted nothing else, he would deserve to 
rank among the great masters of expression, for the sake of this one 
figure. And if on its first appearance in the Salon of 1880, it failed to 
produce the effect which might have been expected, there were some 
at least upon whom the impression which it then made was never 
forgotten. 

" Nothing in painting has ever moved me like the Jeanne (T Arc of 
Bastien-Lepage," wrote Marie BashkirtsefF, a frank and at times a severe 
critic of the pictures which she most admired. " There is something 
indescribably mysterious and marvellous about it. There you have a 
sentiment which the artist has thoroughly understood, the perfect and 
intense expression of a great inspiration, — something great and human, 
inspired and divine at the same moment, in fact what it actually was, and 
what no one before him had ever understood. Only think of all the Jeanne 
lV Arcs that had been painted before ! Good Heavens ! why they are as 
•common as Ophelias and Gretchens ! But in this incomparable artist 
you find what is only to be found in the sacred art of Italy, in the days 
when men believed in what they painted." But the jury of the Salon 
took the popular view, and the medal of honour which Bastien-Lepage 
had hoped to win, was awarded to a far inferior work, the Good Samaritan 
of Aime Morot. Jeanne d' Arc was promptly bought by an American 
collector and taken to Boston, where the great picture received the homage 
which it had failed to win in Paris. When it came back to France for the 
Exhibition of 1889, there was a general feeling of regret at the loss of 
a work which, by reason both of its subject and its merit, should have 
found a place in the Louvre. But it was too late then to repair the 
wrong. Bastien-Lepage himself was bitterly disappointed, not so much 



54 JULES BASriEN-LEPAGE 

at the loss of the medal, as at the failure of a picture upon which he had 
spent so much time and thought, and which, he was conscious, re- 
presented the best that he had to give. In his sadness he began to 
doubt his own powers, and seriously asked himself and his friends if 
after all his theories of art were false. 

"Tell me frankly," he said one evening to M. de Fourcaud,. 
" what is wrong in my picture ? They tell me that my values are 
not correct. That may be true, but upon my word I only paint 
things as I see them, and it is impossible that I should borrow other 
people's eyes. Or else, is it my subject to which people take exception ? 
Well, that is Jeanne d'Arc, a young peasant girl of Lorraine, who sees 
visions. My figure is true ; surely the rest may be left to my imagina- 
tion." So he complained in his darker hours. But he soon recovered 
his usual courage and gaiety, and went off to England, where his friends 
welcomed him warmly, and he was everywhere received as an honoured 
guest. The few weeks which he spent in the midst of his variety of 
engagements he found time to paint several pictures, including a portrait 
of Mademoiselle Damain, of the Comedie Franchise, and a clever study 
of the London Docks, with the muddy waters of the Thames flowing 
under a gray sky. And by August he was back at Damvillers, planning 
new pictures and working with renewed activity. 



V 

The next two years were the most productive in Bastien-Lepage's life. 
That autumn he painted his beautiful harvest landscape Les Bles Murs, 
with the reaper in the foreground, putting in his sickle to cut down the 
golden corn, and the sun breaking out behind a passing storm-cloud, over 
the purple hills and distant woods of Reville. Among his smaller 
sketches for future pictures were his Vendanges and his Femme 
Enceinte ; among his larger studies, the Peasant visiting the field on 
Sunday, and an old woman anxiously examining the blossoms of her 
apple-tree on a cold spring morning, to see what damage the night frost 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 



55 



had. done, and asking herself if she will have any fruit this year. A 
colporteur hurrying across the plain in driving rain was another subject 
which he began at Damvillers, that winter, while during his brief visits 
to Paris he was busy executing the orders of portraits which now reached 




The Beggar. 



him on all sides. That of M. Albert Wolff appeared at the following Salon 
( 1 8 8 1 ) together with Le Mendiant. The artist had gone back to one of 
his earliest impressions, in this life-size picture of the sturdy beggar who 



56 JULES BASLIEN-LEPAGE 

has grown old in tramping from door to door. He is the very type ot 
the habitual mendicant, dirty, ragged and lazy, shod in huge sabots and 
armed with a stout stick which he is quite ready to use in his own 
defence if necessary. The cunning old tramp has started on his rounds and 
has taken care to call at a house where he is sure of alms. The clean 
white shutters and garden seat, the iron ring to which a horse or donkey 
can be tied, the scarlet geraniums at the window are all signs of thrift 
and comfort which his experienced eye is quick to detect. He has told 
his habitual tale and has received the expected dole, in the shape of a loaf 
of bread, which he stows away in his roomy pouch, while the pretty 
little girl in trim frock and pinafore and white collar, who has been sent 
out to him, lingers at the door, with wondering eyes, to take another 
look at this strange visitor. This time the story was easy enough to 
read, the character of the figures and force of the painting were undeniable, 
and there was a touch of humour in the incident which appealed to the 
popular taste. The public which had failed to appreciate Jeanne (T Arc 
gave Le Mendiant a cordial reception, and Bastien-Lepage reaped the solid 
fruits of a popular success. 

The picture of Pere Jacques, which was exhibited the following 

year in the Salon of 1882, was intended as a companion or rather as a 

contrast to Le Mendiant. This time the artist told his friends, 

laughingly, he would show them an honest man, and Le brave Homme 

was the name which he originally chose for his picture, although when he 

sent it to the exhibition he changed his mind and called it Le Pere 

Jacques, after the old Damvillers woodman who had sat to him for the 

figure. The aged peasant whom he painted, bearing his heavy load of 

faggots home, through the autumn woods, on a cold November afternoon, 

was the very type of the respectable labourer. Pere Jacques has worked 

hard, it is plain, all his life long, and has seen bad times, but he has not 

toiled and saved in vain. Now, as he wends his way slowly home, at the 

close of the brief autumn day, he knows that a good fire and a comfortable 

meal are awaiting him there. The little grandchild who trips before 

him, in her neat print frock and blue apron, half-hidden in the grass as 

she stoops to pick the last flower of the forest, is a living proof of the 

order and happiness that reigns in the old woodcutter's home, of the love 

which cheers the evening of his life. The contrast between the gray- 



JULES B AST IEN-LE PAGE 57 

headed old man and the fair-haired child charmed all hearts, and when the 
Salon closed, Pere Jacques was sold to a London picture-dealer, for 
whom Bastien-Lepage also painted his famous gamin, Pas-Meche. 
This celebrated work, one of the most lifelike specimens of humanity 
ever put upon canvas, was the first of several pictures of children which 
were among the most popular of the artist's creations. There was 
his Petite Coquette and Petite Fauvette and Allant a V ' Ecole, that 
well-known picture ot the rosy-cheeked child, carrying her lesson books 
and wrapping her shawl closer round her, as she goes to school, on a 
snowy winter's morning. And there was the peasant-boy looking at the 
rainbow, which the painter sketched out on a large scale, but which, like 
so many more of his finest conceptions, was doomed to be left 
unfinished. 

The growing popularity ot his peasant-pictures had not led him to 
give up other subjects. He was anxious to paint an Annunciation, and 
drew a sketch of the subject in oils, as well as another of Golgotha at 
dawn of day, with the three crosses set on the hill in the dim morning 
light. Another subject which especially attracted his imagination was 
the death of Ophelia. On one of his visits to London he had seen 
Hamlet at the Lyceum, and had returned to Damvillers deeply impressed 
with Shakspeare's conception. He saw in this hapless maiden a 
"miserable d 'amour" an eternal type of unrequited love, of the failures 
and disappointments of human life. In his eyes, Ophelia was the most 
touching of victims and her end the most pathetic thing in tragedy. In 
August 1 88 1 he began his picture on a large scale. 

" I have made some progress," he wrote to Charles Baude, " with a 
large picture of Ophelia. I think it will be a good thing to make her an 
entire contrast to my Beggar, that is to say a really touching Ophelia, as 
heartrending as if she were really alive. The poor foolish child no 
longer knows what she is about. Her face bears marks of her grief and 
her madness. She is close to the edge of the water, leaning against a 
willow, the smile of her last song is still on her lips and her eyes are full of 
tears. Only a branch supports her, and she is slipping unawares into the 
stream close beside her. Another moment, and she will be in the water. 
She wears a pale blue bodice, half blue, half green, a white skirt with 
loose folds, her pockets are full of flowers and behind her you see the 



58 JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

river banks — a wooded bank with tall flowering grasses and thousands of 
hemlocks — flowers like stars in the sky, and in the back of the picture, a 
wooded hill-side, with the sun setting behind birches and nut-trees. 
That is the scenery." 




Sketch for the Death of Ophelia. 



But this beautiful poetic scheme, which the artist had thought out in 
all its details, was never completed, and the sketch here reproduced is 
all that is left us. He was interrupted in his work, and when he 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 59 

returned to Damvillers, other thoughts came crowding on his brain and 
Ophelia was put off — till a more convenient season. 

That autumn he took a short journey to North Italy and sketched the 
lake of Como and the water streets of Venice, but the art of Titian and 
Tintoret did not appeal to him, and he was glad to come back to the 
peasants and fields of Lorraine. In June 1882, he paid his last visit to 
London. There he painted a brilliant little portrait of M. Coquelin and 
his well-known picture of Blackfriars Bridge. The streets of London 
were a source of endless interest and amusement to him, and he brought 
home a large picture of a flower-girl and a smaller study of a shoe-black 
in his red jacket leaning against a post, at the corner of the crowded 
thoroughfare, a figure so lifelike that, a visitor to his studio remarked, 
you seem to hear the sound of the wheels all round him. 

Bastien-Lepage was a great man now. Each of his works was 
hailed with a fresh burst of applause, and he himself was courted and 
caressed by the leaders of Parisian society. Invitations poured in upon 
him and his company was in great request. At first sight, his youthful 
and insignificant appearance might be disappointing, but a closer ac- 
quaintance soon revealed the man's powers. He had read widely and 
thought deeply upon many subjects. His perfect simplicity and absence 
of affectation made him a pleasant companion, and when he found a 
sympathetic listener, he would talk freely of his home and early life, and 
of the pictures which he meant to paint. " Genius is a grand thing," 
exclaimed Marie Bashkirtseff one evening when she first met the painter, 
whose works she had so long admired. " This ugly little man is an angel 
in my eyes, and I could spend my whole life in hearing him talk of his 
pictures. It is really beautiful to understand art and to feel as he feels. 
And he speaks so naturally. He replied to some remark that was made 
to-night, ' I always find so much poetry in Nature,' with an accent of 
such perfect sincerity and conviction, that I cannot forget it now. ... I 
really believe I shall end by thinking him handsome ! At all events, 
he has the infinite charm which belongs to men of real power and 
greatness, who are conscious of their worth without any conceit or 
nonsense." 

In 1887, he left his old atelier in the Rue de Maine for a larger and 
pleasanter quarters in the Rue Legendre, near the Pare de Monceau. 



60 JULES BJSTIEN-LEPJGE 

But the change in his circumstances had not altered his character. He 
was the same true friend and good comrade as in old days, and was 
never so happy as when he could escape from the salons of the great 
world to join a party of his old companions. One such joyous meeting 
M. Theuriet recalls, in the summer of i 88 i , when the members of an 
Alsace-Lorraine society, to which both he and the painter belonged, went 
down the river to dine at Suresnes. That day Bastien-Lepage was the 
gayest of the gay. He collected pence on board the steamer for a blind 
beggar, revelled in the loveliness of the blossoming hawthorns and 
acacias of the Bois de Boulogne, and shouted joyous songs at the top of 
his voice, as they went home under the stars. In January 1881, he had 
been elected a member of the Council of the Societe des Artistes Franc_ais, 
and both in this capacity and as one of the Salony'wry, was frequently called 
upon to attend meetings. He kept his engagements punctually, but 
these frequent interruptions were a tax upon his time, and although his 
first glimpses of the gay world amused him, before long he found the 
distracting influences of Paris too much for him. His advice to promis- 
ing young artists was always the same. Economise your strength and 
concentrate the whole energies of your body and soul upon your art. But 
it was impossible for him to carry out his own principles, when, at all 
hours of the day, his doors were beset by struggling artists or by fine 
ladies who clamoured for his presence at their balls and parties. He 
became restless and moody, and complained that life was not iong enough 
to satisfy all the demands upon his time. But once he could escape to 
Damvillers, his cheerfulness and good temper returned, and he looked 
forward confidently to a day when he might be able to give up painting 
portraits, and devote himself entirely to his work in his country home. 

After his return from England in July, 1882, he finished several 
important pictures. One of these was his Rires d'Avril, a group of 
women washing their clothes in the river under the flowering apple-trees 
of a Damvillers orchard, in the fitful sunshine of an April day. Another 
was the exquisite little idyll of Le Soir an Village, the village street 
in the quiet stillness of evening, with the moon climbing over the top of 
the roofs and two figures seeking their homes in the fading twilight. A 
third which attracted even greater attention, was La Forge, a small 
study of a blacksmith's shop, with its glowing coals, throwing a fine 



JULES BASriEN-LEPAGE 



61 



Rembrandt effect of light on the face of an old man, as he bends at work 
over his anvil. 

In January 1883, Bastien-Lepage and his brother Emile were em- 
ployed to design the funeral car of Leon Gambetta, and both painter and 
architect walked in the solemn procession immediately behind the bier. 
Jules painted a picture of the statesman lying dead in the humble room 
at Ville d'Avray, with the wreaths of flowers resting on his lifeless corpse 




Sketch of Gambetta after Death. 



and an expression of happy serenity on his sleeping face. " I am not 
afraid of death," the artist said, as he showed M. de Fourcaud his 
picture. "It is nothing to die; but the question is, which of us will live 
in the remembrance of the world? . . . Ah! well, let us do our work 
honestly and leave the rest." He little dreamt then how near death was, 
and how little more time was left him for work. 

The cold was severe at the time. Jules caught a chill painting in the 



62 JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

dark little room at Ville d'Avray and went home ill. For some time past 
he had been ailing, and now he was laid up for several weeks with acute 
rheumatic pains. But as soon as he was fit to work, he began a new 
open-air picture, and sat out in the garden painting, wrapt up in rugs, 
for whole days together. This time his theme was that of rustic court- 
ship, a subject after his own heart. The simple tale is charmingly told. 
It is a spring evening in Damvillers, and the church spire and village 
roofs are seen on the rising ground behind the garden hedge where the 
peasant-girl is hanging out her clothes to dry. A lad of twenty has left 
his work to bring his sweetheart a flower, and lingers at her side with 
downcast eyes. He has] something more to say; but words are hard 
to find, and he leans on the stile with a shamefaced look on his honest 
face and twists his fingers together in clumsy silence. The girl's face is 
turned away. We only see the outline of her cheek, the hand holding 
the flower, and the back of her head with the short plaits of hair falling 
on her neck. Yet every line reveals the thoughts that are passing in her 
mind, the new and confused emotions that are stirring in her breast. 
And all around the hedges are breaking into flower, the orchards blossom 
under a pearly sky, and the old earth smiles in its spring loveliness on 
this young dream of love. 

Early in March, M. Theuriet and another friend went down to 
Damvillers in answer to the painter's pressing invitation, to see his 
picture before it started for Paris. The whole family— grandfather, 
mother, and sons — met them at the door and gave them a hearty welcome. 
The next day they saw L 'Amour au Village and a new picture, Le Petit 
Ramoneur, on which he was then engaged. He had painted the little 
chimney-sweep in all his blackness, eating his roll with evident enjoyment, 
and throwing crumbs to the cats, who watch his proceedings with friendly 
attention and a keen eye to their own interests. The snow still lay 
thick on the ground, but the beeches were budding and the larks sang 
of coming spring. Bastien-Lepage took long walks in the woods with 
his friends and talked freely of his future plans. He had bought a 
neighbouring orchard and meant to build a chalet, where his friends 
might come and spend the summer and share the pleasures of his rural 
retreat. And he discussed the criticisms which had been made on his 
Pere Jacques in the last Salon, and defended himself from the charge of 



JULES BJST'IEN-LEPAGE 63 

want of atmosphere and perspective, which was often brought against 
his open-air pictures. " Here we are in a wood," he said, " and as yet 
there are no leaves on the boughs, but you see how little the figure stands 
out from the thick growth of trees and brushwood. There is a great 
deal of prejudice, depend upon it, in the fault which people find with 
the perspective of my open-air pictures. It is the criticism of men who 
have never looked at a landscape, except when they are sitting down. 
Then you see more of the sky, and trees and houses or living beings 
stand out sharply, and the effect of greater distance and wider atmo- 
sphere is naturally given. But this is not the ordinary way in which we 
look at the landscape. We see it when we are on our feet, and then 
objects, both animate or inanimate, instead of standing out against 
the sky, are seen in profile against the trees, or the fields, and mingle 
with the background, which seems to come forward. The fact is, we 
must renew the training of the eye by looking at things as they are in 
•nature, instead of accepting the theories and conventions of the schools 
and studio as absolute truths." 

The evenings of M. Theuriet's visit were spent in cheerful talk 
and round games, in which Jules took care that his grandfather should 
always hold the best cards and took the greatest delight in the old man's 
childish pleasure at his good luck. The painter himself had never 
seemed in better spirits, and before the party broke up, he insisted on 
etching a plate, in which the whole group was represented listening to the 
recital of a fable of La Fontaine, by one of the guests. When his friends 
returned to Paris, he made them promise to come back the following 
September and spend a long holiday at Damvillers. 



VI 

A few weeks later, & Amour an Village appeared at the Salon, and 
was greeted with acclamation. The shy young girl was declared to be a 
poem in herself, the painting of her fair head and of the lad's torn 
gaiters was applauded as a marvel of execution. So unanimous was the 
verdict of approval, that scarcely one critic noticed the real fault of the 



64 JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

picture, the peculiar tint of pale green in which the background is painted,, 
a colour commonly used by the artist, which here strikes the eye as at 
once too uniform and too prominent. Bastien-Lepage's name was on 
every lip that summer, but the painter himself was missed from the 
circles where his presence was most frequent, and he was supposed to 
have gone home. It only transpired later that he was already suffering 
from the terrible disease which ended his life, and that after undergoing a 
serious operation for cancer, he had been sent for change of air to 
Concarneau in Brittany. Here he spent the summer days in a boat, 
making studies of the sea, which he had already tried to paint on his 
visits to England, and which inspired him with new delight each time 
he approached its shores. 

In August he returned to Paris, showed his friends his Brittany 
sketches, and appeared once or twice in Madame B ash kirt serf's salon. His 
good spirits deceived others, and he spoke with great earnestness of the 
works which he meant to paint during the winter. One was to be the 
Shepherds on their way to Bethlehem, the other that long-thought-of 
Enterrement (Tune jeune Fille, for which he had already prepared several 
careful sketches. The contrast between the joy and beauty of the 
spring-time and the sorrow of death is forcibly brought out in the 
painter's design. A group of young girls, dressed in white with black 
tippets, lead the way. One of them bears a cross which has caught in the 
boughs or a flowering apple tree, scattering the white blossoms over the 
procession. A spray falls on the bier, which draped in white, and 
attended by priest and acolytes, is borne aloft on men's shoulders, and 
the white houses of the village are seen in the background, gleaming in 
the spring sunshine. 

Full of this touching and impressive idea, which had taken strong 
hold of his imagination, Bastien-Lepage went back to Damvillers in 
October, and reached home in time to witness the last moments of his 
aged grandfather. He felt the old man's death keenly, and wrote full of 
grief to his friends : " You have no idea how empty the house feels. 
Only a few days ago, the door might open at any moment and the 
grandfather might appear. The sight of his good face was enough. 
We reason with ourselves and appear brave and resigned. But behind all 
that, there is a painful sense of blank, of absolute hunger. If only one 




'J^BajtitTi lya. 



•iiltlrt£<>tli.@A • 



~£ayt in il\c J dlacjt 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 



65 



could still take his hand ! Ah ! my friend, it is hard, and I have been 
and am still quite ill. I cannot work, and have been out to-day for the 
first time, shooting larks on a fine day, in a bright sun, and through a 
beautiful country, which did me good." 



.-■ 



V 



m 







Sketch for the Burial of a Young Girl. 



His own health was failing fast. He still struggled to work, but 
each day his sufferings seemed to grow worse. The letters which 
he wrote to his friends that winter, are very touching in their tender 
affection, and in the deepening sense which they reveal of the beautv of 

£ 



66 JULES BASriEN-LEPAGE 

the world that he was so soon to leave. Never before had the sunsets 
been so full of solemn splendour ; never had the leafless woods and the 
dead yellow grasses been so fair in their pale soft tints. What effects 
he caught as he lingered at twilight on the edge of the forest, what 
glories he saw when the dawn broke over the low hills, or the dark 
masses of rolling clouds swept across the midnight sky ! Each day the 
curtain rose on a new scene, and he could not paint fast enough to 
keep a record of all the lovely changes that followed each other in 
such quick succession. And all the while he was slowly dying of a 
wasting disease. When he came to Paris in March to consult the 
doctors, he did not know that he was leaving Damvillers for the last time. 
His friends found him terribly altered, and the weary look in his eyes 
told them how much he had suffered. But he tried to talk cheerfully, 
and said, as he showed them his last drawings, " When people see these 
at George Petit's, they will say after all little Bastien knew how to 
paint landscape when he chose!" 

A journey to Algiers was recommended, and his " valiant little 
mother," as he called her, who had never left home except for a few 
days, at once prepared to accompany him. They reached Algiers when 
the spring was in its full beauty, and at first the change seemed to 
relieve his pain. He wrote long letters to his friends in Paris, describing 
the luxuriant wealth of vegetation, the orange and lemon and palm trees 
in his garden, and the delicate tints of rose and pearl in the white walls 
of the old Arab town on the green hillside, with the blue sea beyond. 
The Arabs, too, filled him with admiration. He was never tired of 
watching their splendid forms, and calm and noble bearing. " They 
are knaves, people tell me. What does it matter? They are beautiful. 
. . Each of them wears his burnous draped in a fashion peculiar to 
himself. There again you see the triumph of truth over conventional 
arrangement. The sorrowful man, whether he knows it or not, never 
puts on his clothes in the same way as the gay. Beauty, I am convinced, 
is absolute truth, neither to the right nor to the left, but straight before 
us." Soon, he adds, he will be able to paint again, and then what 
studies he will have to bring home ! But his sufferings returned, and 
his strength failed as the summer heats came on. His brother joined 
him in Algiers, and told him of the great success which had attended 




,-«, * 
■/&!/>>■ 








Sketch for the Burial of a Young Girl. 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 69 

the exhibition of his recent works at Petit's gallery that spring, and of 
the admiration which his Forge had excited at the Salon. All Paris was 
talking of his pictures, and longing to see him back again. Late in 
June they brought him home. He bore the journey well, but by this 
time all hope of recovery had vanished, and the next six months were 
one long struggle with increasing pain and weakness. Yet he longed to 
paint more than ever, and often said how gladly he would give up 
everything for three months of health and power to work. " What 
beautiful pictures I could paint now," he said to his Russian friend, 
Prince Bojidar Karageorgevitch, " if only I had strength to work. I 
have learnt a great deal since I left off painting, and have done nothing 
but think about it." But his painting days were over. The last 
drawing that he ever made was a portrait of himself in pencil, as he lay in 
bed, with long hair and sunken eyes, a mere shadow of his former self. 

His Russian friend, Marie Bashkirtseff and her mother paid him 
frequent visits, and drove with him on fine days in the Bois de Boulogne. 
This brilliant Russian girl, who had long been one of the warmest 
admirers of Bastien-Lepage's genius, and whose own picture had met 
with great success at the Salon of that year, was herself dying of con- 
sumption. She was just twenty, and had all that the world could give. 
And now that she seemed to be entering on a great career, like him she 
was stricken with mortal disease. No wonder that a bond of more than 
common sympathy drew the two together in these last weeks of their 
lives. " He is dying," wrote Marie in her journal on the 1st of October. 
" When you are as far gone as that, you cease to care for earthly things. 
Already his soul soars above us. I only go to see him from habit. He 
is but a shadow, and I too am half a shadow. My presence is no longer 
of use to him. I cannot bring back the light to his eyes. But he is glad 
to see me." When she became too ill to leave home, Bastien-Lepage 
came to see her, and was carried upstairs to the large drawing-room in 
Madame BashkirtsefFs house. The change seemed to do him good ; he 
talked with Marie of art and books, and liked to look at the dark-eyed 
girl with her wealth of fair hair lying there wrapt in soft folds of white 
lace and plush. The sight of these different tints of white recalled the 
pictures which he had painted in the days of health and strength. " Ah ! 
if I could but paint now ! " he cried. The 20th of October was a glorious 



70 JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

autumn day. Bastien-Lepage came as usual, supported by his brother. 
But once on the couch, his strength was utterly exhausted. " And to 
think," wrote Marie in her journal that evening, " how many concierges 
are in rude health." They never met again. Eleven days afterwards 
Marie Bashkirtseff was dead. Bastien-Lepage lingered on five weeks 
longer. On the night of the 9th of December he was very wakeful, and 
talked to his mother and brother of Damvillers and of the old home, 
which was ever present to his mind. At last the clock struck four, and he 
said with a smile " It is time for children to go to sleep." When he woke, 
his sight was already dim, and his limbs were growing stiff. Towards 
evening the long agony was over, and his eyes closed in the last sleep. 

Two days afterwards his remains were taken to Damvillers. The whole 
population of the village joined in the funeral procession, and followed 
the painter to his resting place in the little churchyard, where the last wild 
flowers of the year were mingled with the laurel wreaths which lay thick 
upon the sod. An apple-tree was planted by his mother on the spot, and 
each year as spring comes round the white blossoms which the painter 
loved so well fall like snow upon his grave. Five years afterwards a 
statue of Bastien-Lepage was set up by the roadside at Damvillers. It 
was the work of his friend, the great sculptor Auguste Rodin, and no 
more living image was ever carved in stone. The painter stands there in 
his short coat and cape, looking over the fields and orchards of his home. 
His brush and palette are in his hand, his glance is as keen, his step as 
resolute as of old. The peasants who see that familiar form say that he 
seems to live again, and to be watching them as they go to and fro at 
their work. 

In the spring after Bastien-Lepage's death, a complete exhibition of 
his works was held at the Hotel de Chimay, close to l'Ecole des Beaux 
Arts. All his great pictures were there, with the single exception of 
Jeanne cC Arc, which could not be brought across the Atlantic in time. 
All his wonderful little portraits were there too, and all the chief drawings 
and studies he had left behind him, from the canvas of La Source, which 
had been struck by a shell during the Siege of Paris, down to his last 
sketch of the moon rising over the sea in Algiers. 

The critics who had called him a mere realist, saw with wonder all 
the poetry which this man had found in the skies and in the fields. They 




<*> 



b- 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 73 

saw his Orpheus and his Ophelia, his Andromeda and his Angel of the 
Annunciation side by side with the haymakers and potato gatherers of 
Damvillers, the docks of London and the seas of the wild Breton 
shore, by the landscapes of his own Lorraine, and they marvelled at the 
variety of his subjects and diversity of his styles, as much as at the 
quantity of brilliant and original work which had been crowded into 
these few years. They saw, too, the sketches for the pictures which he 
had left undone, the studies for his great Entombment, the lovely sunrise 
drawing for the Shepherds of Bethlehem, and the designs for the Burial of 
a Toung Girl, which was to have been his picture for the Salon of 1885. 
And hanging on the same wall, in startling contrast with these touching 
drawings which tell of sorrow and death, was the lifelike portrait of the 
artist painted by his own hand. There we saw him in all the vigour of 
his manhood, with the frank gaze and thoughtful brow, the keen eye and 
the anxious expression which marked the countenance of this earnest 
seeker after truth. Sad as the sight was, for Bastien-Lepage that day 
was a great triumph. Then for the first time, the world began to see 
the full extent of its loss, and realise all the power and promise of the 
young master who had been cut off in his prime. Had he lived but a 
few more years, there can be little doubt that he would have painted 
some greater and more dramatic picture than he had done before. But 
it is idle to speculate when death has said the last word. We can only 
gather up what remains, and be thankful for the fine and thoughtful work 
which he has left behind. 



VII 

The general impression left by Bastien Lepage's work confirms the 
honesty of his repeated declaration that he had no object in his art but 
truth. " Faisons vrai ! " was the motto which he himself would have 
wished to see inscribed over his pictures. Truth — as Mr. Ruskin said of 
those earnest young Englishmen whom the French master resembled in 
his closeness of observation and intensity of feeling — Truth was the vital 
power of his art, his armour and his watchword. 

"There is only one to be admired," said Bastien Lepage, "that is 



74 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 



Nature. There is only one art and that is to reproduce Nature." The 
consequence of this simple faith, which was complicated in his own mind 




The Artist's Grandfather. From a water-colour drazving. 



by no aesthetic considerations, was that his works are remarkable for their 
veracity. This veracity is of a very comprehensive kind. It does not 



JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 75 

attach itself to any special department of nature, but includes everything 
that he attempts to represent. But although a realist of a very decided 
kind, Bastien-Lepage is not to be classed among the men who despise 
artistic selection and have a positive aversion for beauty. It is true that 
beauty is never his primary aim, but it is none the less present in his 
works and was seldom absent from his thoughts. No one can read his 
letters without feeling how keenly alive he was to natural beauty and 
what keen delight he took in all its varied forms. In his eyes the word 
no doubt may have had a wider meaning, and his idea of beauty may not 
have been the same as ours. He found beauty alike in the subtle expres- 
sion of a human face, and in the ploughed fields under the gray skies of 
autumn, and to make others feel this pathos and poetry by a perfectly 
faithful rendering was the whole of his aim. 

" At the present time," he said one day to M. Theuriet, " we have a 
number of very clever artists, but for all our skill, our painting for the 
most part, only serves to amuse people. It does not lay hold of them, 
because we ourselves do not paint with conviction. We must change our 
ways if any of our work is to live. We must try to see and reproduce 
that inmost radiance which lies at the heart of things, and which is the 
only true beauty, because it is the life." 

Again, in spite of his careful fidelity to nature and anxiety to follow 
her as closely as possible his work was no mere photographic repro- 
duction of life. He would not adopt conventional arrangements of 
composition or " prettify types," but he brought the eye of a true 
artist to the study of natural fact. 

This is best proved by the great variety of his execution, more 
minutely truthful in one picture than in another, and ever careful to 
note the objects on which he desired to fix the spectator's attention. At 
the same time Bastien-Lepage's work is not free from defects in this 
direction. In his eager desire to be truthful, and to reproduce every 
part of nature, he too often sacrificed general effect, and allowed the 
essential facts to become obscured by a mass of detail. This tendency, 
which weakens the impression of some of his finest pictures, would, 
there can be little doubt, have been gradually overcome, if he had 
lived longer, and his work would have gained in proportion. 

The wide range of Bastien-Lepage's art, and his proficiency in 



76 JULES BASTIEN-LEPAGE 

different branches of painting has been sufficiently proved. But he 
also worked in other materials, and tried his hand both at modelling and 
etching. Three sketches by him in clay remain. One is an impressive 
portrait-bust of his father, modelled by him after Claude Bastien- 
Lepage's death and cast in bronze. The second is a figure of Jeanne 
d'Arc as a shepherdess leaning upon her crook. The third and finest 
of the group is a small statuette of Orpheus with his lyre, which Sarah 
Bernhardt held in her hand when her portrait was painted. There it 
appears as a statuette, and it has accordingly been usually described as 
some rare antique, belonging to the actress, whereas it was, in point of 
fact, the painter's own work. 

In his later years Bastien-Lepage devoted some attention to etching, 
and executed as many as twenty plates. 

" These, however," writes Mr. Hamerton, " are relatively of very 
slight importance. Bastien-Lepage never attained to much manual 
power as an etcher, and in fact, at the time of his death, was in this 
art like a skater who has not yet felt the edge of his skate. I 
believe he would have mastered the art later, if he had lived to 
pursue it. The two best plates he has left are one in dry point of 
Theuriet, the novelist, and his family and a portrait of Rodin, the 
sculptor. I may also mention a peasant-girl seen from behind. She 
is holding a rake and is standing in a landscape characteristic of 
Eastern France, with thin poplars standing three by three, and most 
of their branches lopped off. There are also two or three plates of 
peasants at work in rural occupations. However, I do not insist 
upon Bastien-Lepage's merits as an etcher. He was no more than 
an experimentalist in the art, though his experiments were in the 
right direction, and he did not waste time in useless labour. His 
pen-drawings are good painter's pen-drawings, though they do not 
resemble the technical displays of the clever modern specialists in pen- 
draughtsmanship. In water-colour he has left a remarkable sketch 
portrait of his grandfather reading his newspaper in a gray arm-chair 
near a book-case. In this sketch the whole of the background is as 
much suggested as the characteristic figure, but nothing is realised. 
It is an excellent example of genuine sketching in water-colour, without 
any attempt to rival oil, and without the employment of body-colour 



JULES BAST1EN-LEPAGE 



11 



for the lights, all of which are reserved. The colour, which is excellent, 
is chiefly in grays and browns, passing in places into violet and pale 
blue, and there is very little definition, though everything is suggested. 




Statuette 0/ Orpheus. 



It is technically nearer to Turner's water-colour sketching than to 
such definite drawing as we see, for instance, in the artist's portrait 
of M. Emile Bastien-Lepage. All his drawings, including his water- 
colours, have the valuable quality of stopping short in time. In oil, 



7 8 JULES BASriEN-LEPAGE 

he was able to carry finish as far as he liked, and yet keep it sound 
and proportionate throughout. In a word, he was a master of oil-painting 
and sufficiently a master of other graphic arts for his own purposes." 
It is hardly to be expected that the art of Bastien-Lepage will find 
favour with the critics of a school which resents the presence of ideas in 
painting as an intrusion, and sees no excellence in finish. But to 
speak of the master of Damvillers as a mere salonnier, who painted 




Round the Lamp. 



pictures for the sake of exhibition, and whose work is of the most 
commonplace and uninteresting kind, is as ignorant as it is unjust. No 
artist ever cared less for popular applause or material rewards. No man 
was ever more faithful to his own convictions, or more single-minded in his 
devotion to art. Whatever the defects of his work may be, it contains 
undoubted elements of vitality. It is at once strong and delicate, original 
and profound. It was inspired by the most passionate love of nature, 
and distinguished by a complete mastery of means. And this being the 
case, it cannot fail to live. 



INDEX 



Algiers, 66, 70 " Communiantc, La," 22 

"Allant a l'Ecole," 57 Como, Lake of, 39 

Andricux, M., 42 Concarncau, 64 

Angelico, 21 Coquclin, M., 59 

Anna, Mdllc, 14 Corot, 21 

"Annunciation," 57 Courbet, 22 

"Annunciation to the Shepherds," 23 

. Damain, Mdlle., 34. 

Argon ne, 32 T 

Damvillers, 8, 9, 14, 15, 25, 28, 50, 34, 

Banville, Theodore de, 48 62, 64, 70 

BashkirtsefF, Marie, 37, 46, 33, 59, 69, 70 Daubigny, 21 

Bastien, Claude, 10, 12,40 Domremy, 50 

Mdme., 40, 48, 66 Drouet, Mdme. Juliette, 42 
Bastien-Lepage, Emile, 11, 36, 42, 61, 66, 



Ecole des Beaux Arts, 13, 16, 17 

England, 48, 54 

Etchings, 76 

Exhibition of 1889, Paris, 8, 53 



Baude, Charles, 32, 51, 57 

"Beggar, The," 55 

Bernhardt, Sarah, 25, 44, 48 

" Blackfriars Bridge," 59 „ FaneusC5 L ^» 2g 

"Bles Murs," 54 " Femme Enceinte," 54 

Boston, U.S., 53 "Forge, The," 60, 69 

Botticclli ' 2I Fouquet, M., 11 

Bouvcret, Dagnan, 8 Fourcaud, M. de, 8, 17, 46, 34, 61 

Brittany, 64 

"Burial of a Young Girl," 64 Gambetta, Leon, 61 

Godillot, Portrait of Mdme., 38 

Cabanel, 13, 14 "Golgotha," 57 

Castellani, 14 "Grandfather, The Artist's," 15 
Chavannes, Puvis de, 1 5 

"Chimney Sweep," 62 Hayem, M., 22, 38 

Clouet, 21 "Haymakers, The," 8, 29, 36 

Comerre, 24 Henner, 21 



8o 



INDEX 



Holbein, 20, 27 
Hugo, Victor, 42 

"Jeunessc dorec," 14 

"Joan of Arc," 8, 17, 34, 49, 70 

Karagcorgcvitch, Prince Bojidar, 69 
Klotz, M. Victor, 35 
„ Mdmc , 38 

"L'Absent," 35 

"L'Auberge," 35 

Lebegue, Portrait of Mdmc., 36, 38 

Lepage, M., 10, 48, 64 

Lippi, 2 1 

London, 48 

London Docks, Sketch of, 54 

"Love in the Village," 8, 62, 63 

Luxembourg Gallery, 15 

Manet, 21 

Marlborough House, 49, 

Meusc, Department of the, 9, 13 

Millet, 22 

" Mise au Tombeau," 34 

" Mois Rustiques," 34 

Morot, Aimtf, 53 

Ophelia, Study for, 57 
"Orpheus," 45, 73 

Paris, 13, 14, 17, 36, 59, 60, 66 

"Pas-Meche, 57 

" Pere Jacques," 8, 56, 62 

Perugino, 21 

"Petite Coquette," 57 

"Petite Fauvette," 57 



"Potato Gatherers," 8, 46 
Pre-Raphaelites, 23 
" Priam," 25 

Rembrandt, 20, 48 
Reville, 25, 30, 54 
Richier, Ligier, 34 
"Rires d'Avril,"6o 
Rodin, Auguste, 70, 76 

Salon, Jury of, 60 
Saint-Gaudens, Andre', 9 
Sculpture, 76 
" Soir au Village," 60 
"Source, La," 14, 70 
" Springtime," 1 5 
" ,» Song of," 1 5 

Study. Lady sleeping on her bed, 45 
,, Nude figure of a man, 45 

Tadema, Portrait of Mdmc., 48 

Thames, 48 

Theuriet, M. Andre, 8, 16, 32, 34, 36, 42, 

60, 62, 63, 76 
Tinte, 9, 2 5 

" Vendanges," 54 
Venice, 59 
Verdun, 9, 10 

Wales, Prince of, 48, 49 

,, Princess of, 49 
Wallon, M., 38 
Water Colour painting, 76 
Watteau, 1 5 
Wolff", Albert, 42, 55 




TU<ilkrX3'Ut.$Vi.St 



I'lltl.S 



'( 'ortlcorou 



DANTE GABRIEL 
ROSSETTI 



By 

F. G. STEPHENS 

Author of " Celebrated Flemish and French Pictures" 
" Lands eer," etc. 




LONDON 
SEELEY AND CO. LIMITED, ESSEX STREET, STRAND 

NEW YORK, MACMILLAN AND CO. 

1894 






LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



PLATES. 



PAGE 



Venus Vcrticordia Frontispiece 

Dante on the Anniversary of Beatrice's Death to face 34 

Found 38 

Proserpine 80 



ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT. 

Genevieve. Rossetti's First complete Design. Lent by Sir E. F Burne-Jones ... 16 

Ecce Ancilla Domini ! 20 

The Laboratory 26 

Pages Quarrelling 28 

D. G. Rossetti 29 

How they Met themselves 33 

The Artist's Wife 37 

Margaret and Faust 43 

The San Grael .... 44 

Study for Guinevere and Sir Lancelot 46 

Study for Guinevere 47 

Ancilla San Grael ... . . 48 

Lancelot in Guinevere's Chamber 49 

Alma Mater and Mr. Woodward ;o 



4 ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT 



PAGE 



Dante . 51 

Girl Plucking Fruit 52 

Lucrczia Borgia .... 53 

Dr. Johnson at the Mitre 55 

Paolo and Francesca da Rimini 59 

Study or a Head 63 

Lilith 67 

The Lady with the Gold Chain . 71 

Our Lady of Pity 76 

Lady with a Fan 79 

Sancta Lilias, which was founded on The Blessed Damozel 87 

Two Figures Embracing, from The Blessed Damozel 89 

The Sphinx 91 

Christina Rossctti 93 

Beatrice and her Nurse 94 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

PAINTER AND POET 

CHAPTER I 

1828 — 1851. 

Nowhere in Time's vista, where the forms of great men gather 
thickly, do we see many shapes of those who, as painters and as poets 
have been alike illustrious. Among the few to whom, equally on 
both accounts, conspicuous honours have been paid, none is superior to 
Rossetti, of whose genius doubly exalted the artists say that in design he 
was pre-eminent, while, on the other hand, the most distinguished poets 
of our age place him in the first rank with themselves. As to this pro- 
digious, if not unique, distinction, of which the present age has not yet, 
perhaps, formed an adequate judgment, there can be no doubt that with 
regard to the constructive portion of his genius Rossetti was better 
equipped in verse than in design. 

It is certain that our subject looked upon himself rather as a 
painter who wrote than as a verse-maker who painted. It is probable 
that the very facility, which, of course, had been won with enormous 
pains, and was maintained with characteristic energy and constant 
care, of his literary efforts led Rossetti to slightly undervalue the rare 
gifts of which his pen was the instrument, while, as to painting, his 
hard-won triumphs with design, colour, expression, form, and visible 
beauty of all sorts seemed to him the aptest as well as the most successful 
exponents of the passionate poetry it was, by one means or the other, his 
object to make manifest. His mission was that of a poet in art as in 
verse, and, by devoting the greater part of his life and all his more 



6 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

arduous efforts to the former means, he made it plain that, notwith- 
standing all obstacles, the palette served his purpose better than the pen. 
I refer thus emphatically to Rossetti's genius in its double form as 
well as to the inevitable division of his energies which attended that 
circumstance, because, while I wonder at his achievements and know how 
great were the powers he employed, I cannot help thinking that a less 
complex nature than his would have done still more than, so far as time 
and space allow, these pages have to report of and illustrate. 

Gabriel Charles Dante was the elder son, and, his sister Maria 

Francesca being his senior, the second child of Gabriele Rossetti and 

Frances Mary Lavinia, his wife, born Polidori ; she wrote some poems 

and educational books of value, and died several years ago. William 

Michael, third child of this union (born in 1829), is the still living 

accomplished writer on poetry and art, and the tenant of a high post in 

the Inland Revenue Department, Somerset House. The fourth child 

is Miss Christina Georgina Rossetti (born 1830) whose Goblin Market 

attests her to be one of the most distinguished poetesses of this 

century. Gabriele Rossetti was descended from an Italian family of 

some renown, whose original name was Delia Guardia, and he was 

born in 1783 at Vasto d'Ammone, in the Abruzzi, the son of one 

Domenico, who was connected with the iron trade of that town. 

Gabriele, a man of culture, whose specialty was in profound studies of 

Dante — whence one of the names of his elder son — removed to Naples, 

and held an honourable office as custodian of antique bronzes in the 

then Bourbon Museum of the capital. This post and all his other 

possessions were forfeited in 1820, when he joined in revolutionary 

movements against Ferdinand I., King of the Two Sicilies, which, by 

the aid of the Austrians, were defeated and the chiefs proscribed. Among 

them Rossetti took refuge at Malta in 1822, and, ultimately, in London, 

where he arrived in 1825, and in the next year married the above-named 

lady, who was a daughter of Signor Gaetano Polidori, a secretary of 

Count Alfieri, the Italian poet and supposed second husband of Louisa 

of Stolberg, Countess of Albany, wife and widow of Charles Edward 

Stuart, the besotted Young Pretender. The wife of Signor Gaetano was 

a Miss Pierce, an Englishwoman. Besides the lady who became Mrs. 

Gabriele Rossetti, Gaetano had for his son Dr. Polidori, one of Lord 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 7 

Byron's physicians, with whom his lordship fell foul in a certain Epistle 
from Mr. Murray, and who, with other things in verse and prose, 
wrote a sanguinary novelette called The Vampire, which still retains its 
shadow of a reputation. Arrived in London Gabriele Rossetti maintained 
himself as a teacher of his native tongue, and succeeded so well in that 
capacity that the Professorship of Italian in King's College was offered 
to him and accepted in 1831. 

As might be expected of one possessing so many accomplishments and 
whose career had been marked by so much courage, the professor was a 
man of striking character and aspect, so that when I was introduced to 
him in 1848, and his grand climacteric was past, and, as with most 
Italians, a life of studies told upon him heavily, I could not but be 
struck by the noble energy of his face and by the high culture his 
expression attested, while a sort of eager, almost passionate, resolution 
seemed to glow in all he said and did. To a youngster, such as I was 
then, he seemed much older than his years, and while seated reading at a 
table with two candles behind him and, because his sight was failing, 
with a wide shade over his eyes, he looked a very Rembrandt come to 
life. The light was reflected from a manuscript placed close to his face, 
and, in the shadow which covered them, made distinct all the fineness 
and vigour of his sharply moulded features. It was half lost upon his 
somewhat shrunken figure wrapped in a student's dressing-gown, and 
shone fully upon the lean, bony, and delicate hands in which he held 
the paper. He looked like an old and somewhat imperative prophet, 
and his voice had a slightly rigorous ring speaking to his sons and 
their visitors. Near his side, but beyond the radiant circle of the 
candles — her erect, comely, and very English form, and face remarkable 
for its noble and beautiful matronhood, and but half visible in the 
flickering glow of the fire — sat Mrs. Rossetti, the mother of Dante 
Gabriel. He too, leaning his elbows upon the table and holding his 
face between both hands so that the long curling masses of his dark 
brown hair fell forward, sat on the other side, his attenuated features 
sharply outlined by the candle's light. 

It is not certain whether the scene which thus impressed my 
memory was presented at No. 38, Charlotte Street, Portland Place, one 
of those then very li respectable," but dull, and now much deteriorated 



8 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

opposing lines of brick walls, with rectangular holes in them, which 
Londoners call houses, where, on the 12th of May, 1828, our subject- 
was born, or whether No. 50 in the same street was thus signalised. 
To the latter house the Rossetti family migrated about the time in 
question. It is fortunate that a "Board" has not, as in many neigh- 
bouring regions, changed the numbers of the houses in Charlotte Street, 
and that its monkey-like activity has, for the present at least, spared 
the record of a famous family. Nevertheless, the birthplace of the 
Rossettis will, doubtless, some day be marked with an honourable white 
stone. Certain it is that they were all born at No. 38, and that in 
April, 1854, at No. 50, the ardent self-sacrificing patriotism of Pro- 
fessor Gabriele Rossetti found its earthly close. Tennyson's " long 
unlovely " Wimpole Street, where the Laureate was wont to stand 
waiting for the 

"hand that can be clasped no more,'' 

and which is close to our poet's birthplace, is not more "bald," than that 
which took its name from the ill-favoured wife of George III. Rossetti 
was christened Charles after Mr. Charles Lyell, his godfather, of Kin- 
norchy, Fife (whose more famous son wrote The Principles of Geology), 
Gabriel, after his father, and Dante after the illustrious poet. We know 
that his first teaching was due to his mother, an accomplished and devoted 
matron whose affection was, even to his latest days, ceaselessly acknow- 
ledged by her son. Mr. Knight tells us the lad's first school was under 
the Rev. Mr. Paul, in Foley Street, whence, in 1837, he was with his 
brother, removed to King's College School, where he stayed till 1843, 
and received all the advantages of that capital academy ; these, however, 
did not include what are now called "sports," a circumstance which of 
course had not a little influence on his character in after life. 1 

1 It has been said that Rossetti shared at Least some of the athletic proclivities and 
aptitudes of British youth, and was accustomed to enjoy energetic exercises. This is 
quite a mistake, for, although he was in youth a tolerably good walker, he never excelled 
in that respect. It was an error which has made him appear as a rower ; indeed, I 
remember when in my boat he proposed, because it was in his Way, to throw over- 
board one or the stretchers (!) ; he never cared to swim, and, if he rode at all, he could 
not be called a rider. The fact is that, when he pleased, which, until his later days, 
was both often and long, no one worked harder than Rossetti ; but, as a glance at his 
frame and face amply attested, his energy was not physical. In after life he deplored 
his youthful neglect of school games and struggles of the more manly kind. 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 9 

At King's College School the Italian professor's son acquired, as his 
brother tells us, "an education in Latin, French, and the rudiments of 
Greek." Italian was, of course, his customary, if not his native tongue ; 
to these collectively considerable attainments must be added a " certain 
knowledge of German," which was more than enough to enable him to 
read- in that language. After some tentative and rather "boyish" 
literary efforts, resulting in an experimental drama, and a prose romance 
or two, one of which was printed by his grandfather, Mr. Gaetano 
Polidori, Rossetti determined to become an artist. This was in the 
autumn of 1843, a date which, however, must not be taken as that of 
the youth's beginning to draw. Indeed, his brother tells us that our 
subject was even then a member of a sketching club, and the same 
authority still possesses some drawings made in ink to illustrate a 
story of the designer's, called Sorentino, by means of which, by the way, 
he even thus early appears in that double capacity of author and artist 
which always obtained with him. The influence of Retzsch and his 
once-famous Outlines anent Faust was manifest in all the productions of 
this category by Rossetti, as well as all his colleagues of the P-R.B. who 
could draw, that is six of the seven. Every one of these was accus- 
tomed to make designs in this manner. Thus, some of the finest 
" inventions " of Sir John Millais's most brilliant youth were, with 
stringent care and delicacy, put upon paper. That influence is manifest 
in the beautiful outlined design called Genevieve, which charms us 
in this text, and has not been reproduced till now. 

There is no doubt that Rossetti's systematic training as an artist was 
begun in 1843, and at Mr. Cary's then well-known academy, which 
stood at the south-east corner of Charlotte Street and Bainbridge Street, 
Bloomsbury. It was a capital drill-ground for drawing from the 
antique, beyond which step of his training Rossetti did not pass in that 
place, including drawing from the human skeleton, but not painting- 
Here, with frequent excursions into the realms of poetry proper, he 
remained, I fear, in a somewhat desultory mood, rather less than three 
years, during which period he prepared the drawing of a statue, then 
demanded by the Royal Academy ere its tyros were admitted as 
Probationers to the Antique School in Trafalgar Square. In July, 1846, 
he was admitted a Student of the Academy. " I saw," says a fellow 



io DJNTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

student, " Rossetti, whom Fame of a sort had preceded, enter the school 
with a knot of Probationers, who, as if to keep each other in coun- 
tenance, herded together. All their forerunners turned, as was natural, 
to the door of the room, and noticed among the freshmen the saturnine, 
thin, and for a youth of nearly eighteen, not well-developed tyro other 
' Caryites ' had talked of as a poet whose verses had been actually 
printed, and whom they described as a clever sketcher of chivalric and 
satiric subjects, who, in addition, did all sorts of things in all sorts of 
unconventional ways. Thick, beautiful, and closely curled masses of 
rich brown much-neglected hair, fell about an ample brow, and almost 
to the wearer's shoulders ; strong eyebrows marked with their dark 
shadows a pair of rather sunken eyes, in which a sort of fire, instinct of 
what may be called proud cynicism, burned with a furtive kind of energy, 
and was distinctly, if somewhat luridly, glowing. His rather high cheek- 
bones were the more observable because his cheeks were roseless and 
hollow enough to indicate the waste of life and midnight oil to which the 
youth was addicted ; close shaving left bare his very full, not to say 
sensuous, lips and square-cut masculine chin. Rather below the middle 
height, and with a slightly rolling gait, Rossetti came forward among his 
fellows with a jerky step, tossed the falling hair back from his 
face, and, having both hands in his pockets, faced the student world 
with an insouciant air which savoured of defiance, mental pride and 
thorough self-reliance. A bare throat, a falling, ill-kept collar, boots 
not over familiar with brushes, black and well-worn habiliments, 
including, not the ordinary frock or jacket ' of the period,' but a very 
loose dress-coat which had once been new — these were the outward and 
visible signs of a mood which cared even less for appearances than the 
art-student of those days was accustomed to care, which undoubtedly 
was little enough. Apart from all these unconventionalities one saw at a 
glance that the partial slovenliness of the newcomer was far from being a 
sign of mere vanity affecting pride and, in contempt for others, seeking 
to be singular." It must be remembered that Rossetti had all his life been 
accustomed to meet in his father's house poets, scholars, and patriots of 
mark. When he entered the Academy he was by no means unknown, 
many a " Caryite " had preceded him from Bloomsbury, and not a few 
turned to welcome him to the Antique School. 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI n 

In that school Rossetti worked somewhat less than was desirable, 
intermittently, and as if without a serious intention to profit by it to the 
utmost ; nor did he ever pass to the higher grades of the Life and 
Painting Schools. It is clear that literature, abundant reading and 
writing poetry were his chief delights till about March, 1848, when, 
much stirred by the vigorous and noble design of Madox Brown's 
Parisina, which he saw at the British Institution in 1845, anc ^ tnus 
strengthened impressions due to the same fine artist's contributions to 
the Westminster Hall Exhibitions of 1844 and 1845, 1 and, above all, 
to the pathos and originality of Brown's picture in the ' Free Exhibition' 
at Hyde Park Corner in 1848, he wrote to the latter expressing the 
highest admiration of his works, and begged for lessons in painting, in the 
technique of which our subject had, it is beyond question, made no con- 
siderable progress. This appeal was made in such enthusiastic terms that 
as, with a great deal of humour, Brown was wont to tell in after years, the 
recipient fancied such compliments were not unlikely to cover an inten- 
tion to " make fun" of him. Brown therefore, before calling on his 
would-be pupil, provided himself with a thick stick and sallied forth, 
intending to use it if need be. To Charlotte Street he went, and seeing 
" Mr. Rossetti " on the doorplate was partly reassured, but held to the 
cudgel until the young Rossetti's manifest sincerity disarmed all sus- 
picion and, finally, impelled Brown so warmly that he then and there 
undertook the office of a teacher, not for fees, but entirely for the love of 
art, and in order to be helpful to one so anxious and so deeply moved. 
Rossetti himself was wont gleefully to tell his intimates that the first 
result of Brown's teaching was dismay, because the subject set before 
the pupil for accurate and stringent imitation was a group of jars, 
such as pickle-pots, or some such things, in still life, the uncom- 
promising prose of which did not suit the aspirations of the tyro. 
Nevertheless, there can be no doubt whatever that to Brown's guidance 
and example we owe the better part of Rossetti as a painter per se, 
although his will to study with tenacity, and thus command success, 
might have been stiffened by the encouragement and example of Mr. 
Holman Hunt, apart from which, I fear the latter-named student was not 

1 These were The Body of Harold brought to the Conqueror, a cartoon, 1844, and 
'Justice, 1845. 



12 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

the fittest guide for a genius like Rossetti, who very soon departed from 
the uncompromising principles of the indomitable friend who had never 
been, even for an hour, his model in art. Rather had the brilliant and 
happy power of Millais, one of the truest painters of the age and a 
born artist, been as light before the subject of these pages. Rossetti 
was considerably behind his friends. Brown was his senior by seven 
years, and a thoroughly trained artist, who had exhibited in this country 
in 1 841 ; Millais was a Gold Medal Student in the Royal Academy 
before the foundation of the P-R.B., and an exhibitor in 1846 ; while 
Mr. Holman Hunt, an exhibitor from the last-named year, had passed 
through ordeals of practice and training of the most self-exacting 
stringency, far beyond what Rossetti, although he had never departed 
from the conviction that his chief function was painting, and not 
poetry, had submitted to. 

Desiring to become a thoroughly trained painter, Rossetti wrote to 
Brown. It appears that, with greatly increased admiration of Brown's 
skill and genius, Rossetti had seen besides Parisina, and other instances 
at the British Institution, that artist's contribution to the " Free 
Exhibition of Modern Art," 1 which in the spring of 1848, was formed 
near Hyde Park Corner. This noteworthy and epoch-marking instance 
was named The First Translation of the Bible into English, or, more 
aptly, Wickliffe reading his Translation of the New Testament to John 
of Gaunt. Painted in 1847-8, it was No. 216 at the gallery in question, 
where it attracted much attention, aroused abundant controversies, and, 
above all, allowing for the idiosyncrasies of the artist, was the first 
Pre-Raphaelite picture of the original stamp ever produced. It 

1 This gallery was afterwards known as the Portland Gallery, and removed to Regent 
Street, where it survived till 1861. It was originally held in the ci-devant Chinese 
Gallery, Hyde Park Corner, and filled a long, well-lighted brick building standing on a site 
in the rear of the present Alexandra Hotel, and originally constructed for the exhibition 
and sale of Chinese and Japanese brie a brae. The time not being ripe for an adequate 
development of that cult of quaintness and strong colour which has culminated in the 
wildest Impressionism, so-called, of which we are now witnessing the decline and fall, the 
Chinese Gallery, as an exhibition, came to grief in a year or two. It gave way to the 
'• Free Exhibition," as it was humorously called, because there was nothing free about it, 
the artists paying for their places, besides a percentage on the prices of their pictures 
when they sold them there, while the public paid for the privilege of seeing them as 
well as for the catalogues which described them. 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 13 

was, of course, exhibited months before the foundation of the Brother- 
hood in the autumn of 1848, and undertaken while the P-R.Bs. proper 
were still in their original darkness. A happy combination of Italian 
taste, and the technique of the Low Countries of the pre-Rubensian 
epoch, the gravity, energy, high finish, and pure and brilliant coloration 
of this noble piece had, as I said in the Portfolio of 1893, p. 66, 
profound effects upon the painters of the Brotherhood. 

It was in the autumn of 1848, that Rossetti, finding the accommoda- 
tion of the paternal house in Charlotte Street too limited for his purpose, 
joined Mr. Holman Hunt (with whom he had not previously been 
particularly intimate) in renting a studio at the then No. 7 Cleveland 
Street, Fitzroy Square, a house which stood next to the south-west 
corner of Howland Street, before one reaches the workhouse. It was, 
even then, a dismal place, the one big window of which looked to the 
east, and through which, when neither smoke, fog, nor rain obscured the 
unlovely view, you could see the damp, orange-coloured piles of timber 
a neighbouring dealer in that material had, within a few yards of 
the room, piled in monstrous heaps upon his backyard. In this forlorn 
quarter Rossetti began his first picture in oil that deserved the name, 
although, as already intimated here, certain tentative experiments in por- 
traiture with that vehicle had exercised him with more severity than 
success. Nothing could be more depressing than the large gaunt chamber 
where the young artist executed two memorable pictures and from 
which posterity must perforce date the inception of Pre-Raphaelitism of 
the primitive and stringent, not to say hide-bound sort. Except early 
in the morning, nothing like that fulness of light which painters now 
demand was obtainable where the dingy walls, distempered of a dark 
maroon which dust and smoke stains had deepened, added a most 
undesirable gloom. The approach to it was by a half-lighted staircase 
up which the fuss and clatter of a boys' school kept by the landlord 
of the house, and too often dashed with sounds of chastisement and 
sorrow, frequently arose ; add to these uncomely elements a dimly 
lighted hall, surcharged by air of which the damp of the timber yard 
was not the only source of its mustiness, and a shabby out-at-elbows 
doorway, giving access from the street that, even then, was rapidly " going 
down in the world." It was sliding so to say, to its present -zero of 



1 4 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

rag and bottle shops, penny barbers, pawnbrokers and retailers of the 
smallest possible capital. Such was the place where Mr. Holman Hunt, 
then in his twenty-first year, and Rossetti, who had not completed his 
second decade, met and began to work out their destinies. The former, 
who on that occasion left his father's house, was the master of a good 
deal less than a hundred pounds, being the price, or what remained of 
that sum, for which he had sold to a prize holder of the "Art Union," 1 
his noteworthy No. 804 in the Academy of 1848, entitled '•The Flight 
of Madeline and Porphyro, an illustration of Keats's Eve of St. Agnes. 
It was an excellent example which, without the least quality of Pre- 
Raphaelitism, attested the remarkable skill of the artist and his rare 
sense of the picturesque in design. He had before this time painted, 
besides pot-boiling portraits, two or three less ambitious works. 

Rossetti was yet, apart from the studio, a member of his father's 
family, and, unlike his comrade, still, being so young, dependent upon 
his father, but resolutely devoted to art, that is to say to the expression 
of the poetry of his nature by means of painting, rather than in verse. 
It is the more to his honour that, while his facility in verse was rare, 
brilliant, and great, he had at this period to undergo agonies of toil and 
passionately to, so to say, tear himself to pieces, while he became a 
painter according to the lofty standards of Madox Brown, Holman 
Hunt, and John Millais. These, as well as other friends of his, 
witnessed the greatness of the struggle and honoured accordingly the 

1 This was the now deceased Mr. Charles Bridger, a well-known archasologist and 
antiquary, whose Index to Printed Pedigrees has proved the value of his services. The 
prize was £60 or thereabouts, for the winner being a friend oi mine, I negotiated the 
business, but forget the exact sum in question. 

2 Millais, too, had exhibited at the Academy in 1846, his Pixarro seizing the Inca of 
Peru, his Elgiva (which he sold for _£i2o) in 1847 ; his picture of The Widow's Mite, 
which, with life-size figures, was at Westminster Hall in 1849, occupied this artist in 
1848, so that he exhibited nothing at the Academy in that year. There was no Pre- 
Raphaelitism in any of these instances, nor otherwise until the painters' contributions 
to the Academy of 1849 marked their adherence to the newly pronounced principles of 
the Brotherhood. In March of this year Rossetti's Girlhood of Mary, Virgin was shown 
at Hyde Park Corner, and by Brown, his splendid King Lear, which is now in the 
collection of Mr. Leathart, of Gateshead, and, as a powerful illustration of Pre- 
Raphaelitism a glory of the English School, worthy to be compared with any master- 
piece of Rossetti in his riper days, with A Huguenot, or The Proscribed Royalist of 
Millais. 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 15 

victor of that strenuous self-contest. Under these conditions, and in the 
studio here described Rossetti began to paint The Girlhood of Mary, 
Virgin, which is, so far as he was concerned, the first outcome of the Pre- 
Raphaelite views he had accepted. Whether he had adopted them under 
the inspiration of one or more of his friends, or, as some have supposed, 
had invented them, matters little. That he took an independent line 
in regard to art the work in question emphatically affirms ; the truth 
seems to be that Brown's influence predominated in his studies, while the 
mysticism of his own mind directed him where neither the dramatic 
intensity of Millais and Brown, still less the stringent realism of 
Mr. Holman Hunt, had any power. The design was certainly made 
rather early in 1848, probably before going to Cleveland Street. 

How independent that line of thought and art had already become, 
that is how entirely free from impressions due to any of those artists 
of power with whom he was then associated, I could not better 
demonstrate than by setting before the reader a very sufficient, but much 
reduced transcript of Rossetti's design, made in fine outlines and ex- 
quisitely drawn, to illustrate Coleridge's Love, and having tor its 
text the wooing of Genevieve — 

"She lean'd against the armed man, 

The statue of the armed knight ; 

She stood and listened to my lay, 

Amid the lingering light. 

"I played a soft and doleful air, 
I sang an old and moving story — 
An old rude song, that suited well 
That ruin wild and hoary." 

If ever pencil gave the tender pathos and suggested the moving 
cadences of a poet's verse this lovely drawing, which has never been 
reproduced before, does so entirely and sympathetically. Quoting his 
brother's own record, a sort of diary, Mr. W. M. Rossetti tells us 
that "On August 28 [1848] Rossetti sat up all night, and made, 
from 1 1 p.m. till 6 a.m. an outline of Coleridge's Genevieve, ' certainly 
the best thing I have done.' " 1 The drawing was, I believe, produced 

1 The choice instance is made in ink, with a very fine, probably crow-quill, pen, and 
bears, in a monogram, " G. C. D. R., August, 1848." Not long after this the artist ceased 



i6 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 



as the artist's contribution to a rather ambitious body calling itself "The 
Cyclographic Society," according to the rules of which each member 

furnished a design to be placed 
in a portfolio with others, cir- 
culated and subjected to the criti- 
cism of all who chose to offer their 
opinions. The design itself was 
given to Mr. Coventry Patmore 
who, not long since, gave it to 
Sir E. Burne-Jones, to be ex- 
changed for a drawing by that 
master himself. It now belongs 
to Sir Edward, who generously 
lent it to illustrate this sketch 
of his old friend's art. 

To return to The Girlhood 
of Mary, Virgin, the style, 
gravity, and grace of which are 
manifest developments of the 
like qualities of Genevieve, it is 
indispensable to illustrate the 
leading facts in its history, as 
the first example of Rossetti as 
a Pre-Raphaelite out of which 
naturally arises an account of 
the origin of the Brotherhood 
bearing that name. Mr. Hol- 
man Hunt has in the Fortnightly 
Review given a version of the 
history of the body, which, 
though not quite complete, is, 
as far as it goes, correct. It is to the effect that some time after the two 
comrades settled in Cleveland Street, they encountered at Millais's 

to use his name of Charley and thenceforth adopted the style "Dante G. Rossetti," 
or a monogram, of which there is more than one version, comprising " D. G. R." 
only. 




Genevieve. 

Rossetti' ' s first complete Design. 
E. Burne-Jones. 



Lent by Si 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 17 

house in Gower Street, a book of engravings from frescoes in the 
Campo Santo of Pisa, that is to say from pictures, the purity, energy, 
simplicity, and poetic veracity of which served as points of crystallisa- 
tion, or nuclei of enthusiasm for the till then somewhat nebulous ideals 
in art the three men severally and independently of each other possessed. 
Then and there, or very shortly afterwards, the friends determined to 
form what may be called a League of Sincerity, with loftier aims than 
artists generally cared for, a leading principle of which implied that each 
confessor should paint his best with due reference to nature, without 
which there could be no sincerity. There was no intention of following, 
much less copying the modes and moods of the artists who preceded 
Raphael, nor of rejecting anything which had been attained in art's 
service since the days of that Prince of Painters. I^ach friend was to 
work in his own way, and, if an edifying use could be made of the 
subject he chose for his art, so much the better, yet nothing like a 
didactic, religious, or moral purpose was insisted on by any Brother. 
The enthusiasm of Rossetti prompted the idea of forming a " Brother- 
hood," which in a very few days was enlarged to include James Collinson, 
then a painter of domestic genre of conspicuous ability and great 
promise ; Thomas Woolner, a sculptor of rare gifts and prodigious 
skill ; the present writer, who was then in training as a painter, and 
W. M. Rossetti, who acted as secretary to the society. In 1848 none 
of these men, except Collinson and Woolner, was more than twenty- 
one years of age. Naturally enough, Brown was solicited to become 
a Brother, but he, chiefly because of a crude principle which, for a time 
was adopted by the other painters, declined to join the society. This 
principle was to the effect that when a member had found a model 
whose aspect answered his ideas of what his subject required, that 
model should be painted exactly, and so to say, to a hair. Such a 
hide-bound rule was, of course, an absurdity, destructive of all art and 
hopeless. It is not to be supposed that enthusiasm for the right was 
the monopoly of the leading trio, or that during several years after 
the date in question, any one of the Brotherhood turned aside from 
his duty as a member. In course of time Collinson, having painted a 
a remarkable picture to which much less respect than is due has been 

B 



1 8 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

awarded, and, being sorely tried by religious influences and a wavering 
will, openly seceded. 1 

Rossetti gallantly began and carried out his beautiful though tentative 
Girlhood of Mary, Virgin, which represents Mary and her mother, 
St. Anne, seated at an embroidery frame in a balcony and beneath a 
vine whose foliage extended over a lattice, through which is a view of a 
landscape without the chamber. In front of the group six books are 
piled, each inscribed with the name of a Virtue, while near the volume 
stands a child-angel, who is watering a tall lily. Joseph is trimming 
the vine, amid the leaves of which the Holy Dove is resting in a golden 
halo. The lily is not only the Virgin's emblem, but serves as a model 
for the embroidery she is supposed to be devoutly engaged upon while 
her mother tenderly and gravely regards her. The sonnet Rossetti 
printed in the catalogue of the Free Exhibition describes her as being 

"As it were 
An angel-watered lily, that near God 
Grows and is quiet." 

This sentence sufficiently indicates the mystical and allusive mood of the 
painter in 1848, as well as illustrates the devout spirit which the com- 
panionship of Mr. Holman Hunt tended to strengthen while the counsel 

1 Walter Howell Devercll, a much beloved fellow-student, with artistic gifts time 
could surely have developed, was nominated, but not actually elected, to fill the place 
of Collinson. He died February 2nd, 1854, aged twenty-six. Collinson became a 
member of the Society of British Artists, which did not recognize Pre-Raphaelitism in 
any of its forms, and, being well advanced in middle life, died some years since. What 
Woolner was expected to do as a Brother I do not exactly know, but in Art and other- 
wise he lived a Knight of the Order of Sincerity, became a Royal Academician of great 
renown, and died October 7th, 1892. As for myself, having been stringently trained 
in the practice of Art, I found the experience thus won to be of great value in the 
profession of an Art-critic, into which " gentle craft " I gradually drifted, and so remain. 
In the same profession Mr. W. M. Rossetti has made a position of importance, besides 
that to which he holds as a litterateur. Ford Madox Brown, whose death occurred 
October 6th, 1893, left a name we all honour as that of one in the higher ranks of Art. 
It appears thus that of seven young men and Brothers five have attained eminent positions, 
four of them being pre-eminent, although for years after the society was formed no single 
member, whatever his position might be, escaped insult, obloquy, and wicked and malicious 
misrepresentation. The more conspicuous the Brother was the more outrageously was 
he attacked. 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 19 

of that artist and Madox Brown helped materially the execution of the 
picture which, apart from its prodigious merits and simply as the first 
work of a painter whose training had been both brief and interrupted, 
I never cease to look upon with indescribable wonder. A little flat and 
gray, and rather thin in painting, it is most carefully drawn and soundly 
modelled, rich in good and pure colouring ; and in the brooding, dreamy 
pathos, full of reverence and yet unconscious of "the time to come," 
which the Virgin's still and chaste face expresses, there is a vein of 
poetry, the freshest and most profound. Rossetti had no difficulty in 
finding models whose aspects he could delineate without scruple as 
fittest for his purpose ; his sister Christina sat for the Virgin, his 
mother for St. Anne. The Child-angel was painted from a younger 
sister of Mr. Woolner, whose features did, perhaps, require a little 
modification. The artist's descriptive sonnet, above quoted, continued 
with the account of the Virgin's girlhood, which lasted 

" Till one dawn, at home, 
She woke in her white bed, and had no fear 
At all, yet wept till sunshine, and felt awed ; 
Because the fulness of the time was come." 

This passage distinctly points to the next picture of Rossetti, the 
supremely beautiful Ecce Ancilla Domini I for the Ancilla in which the 
artist's sister again sat, and which again illustrates the brooding, dreamy 
pathos of the painter's mystical mood, as well as the virginal charm 
of the lady who sat for its principal figure and face, a charm to which 
The Girlhood of Mary, Virgin, as well as the Ecce Ancilla Domini ! 
manifestly owe much, if it was not actually the prompting raison d'etre 
of both the works. There is an excellent reproduction of the latter in 
the Portfolio {or 1888, with an illustrative note by the present writer. 1 
On that occasion it was said that this small picture on panel — it 
measures only twenty-eight by sixteen inches — is the one perfect 
outcome of the original motive of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood 
by its representative and typical member. It is not correct, nor would 

1 It was priced at the gallery at £80, and sold, I believe, to the Marchioness of 
Bath for that price. It now belongs to her daughter, the Lady Louisa Feilding, who 
lent it, as No. 286, to the Academy in 1883. There is an amusing note on the selling 
of this picture in the Art "Journal, 1884, p. 150. 

B 2 




Ecce Ancilla Domini! 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSS Em 21 

it be just to say more of his influence on that much misrepresented 
company than admits his leadership in regard to the pathetic expression 
of a religious ideal. Each of the three distinguished painters whom the 
world now recognizes (at the time Ecce Ancilla Domini ! was in hand 
James Collinson had to be reckoned with), so completely followed his 
own devices, that after a year or two, Rossetti was Rossetti alone, and 
hardly any traces of his genius are to be found except on his own 
canvases. Millais, at least, gave the painter some help in working out 
the highly spiritualised ideal, which may be described as follows. In a 
chamber, whose pure white sides and floor exhibit an intensity of soft 
morning light, the couch of Mary, itself almost entirely white, is placed 
close to the wall where dawn would strike its earliest rays, and with 
its head towards the window. A scanty blue curtain shaded the face 
of the sleeper ; behind, attached to the wall, a lamp (such as in 
antique chambers was rarely extinguished, and supposed efficacious 
against evil spirits) is still alight, although it is broad day without, 
and the sun reveals the tree growing close to the opening. At the 
foot of the couch, Mary's embroidery frame, with a lily unfinished on 
the bright red cloth which was the sole piece of strong colour in the 
picture, bespeaks one of those domestic occupations painters have 
agreed to ascribe to the Maiden Mother. As the subjective incident 
of the work is the Annunciation, Rossetti intends us to suppose that the 
Virgin was aroused from sleep, if not from prayer, when the gentlest 
of the archangels appeared, the light of Heaven filled the room, and the 
words " Ecce Ancilla Domini ! " were uttered by Mary in submission to 
her lot ; for it is manifest that The Girlhood of Mary, Virgin, was 
intended to show her in a state of mystical pre-cognition, as became 
the sequence of the subjects. 

How original were the views of Rossetti in respect to the treatment of 
this wonderfully difficult theme will appear when we remember how 
other masters had treated it. The Virgins Annunciate of Angelico, 
Memmi, Taddeo Bartoli, Fra Bartolommeo and others, were, as the 
Portfolio has already pointed out, generally handsomely clad, if not 
crowned and jewelled, and most of them are enthroned under arched 
canopies, adorned with sculptures. The Flemings and Germans went 
beyond this, and expended all the resources of their skill on Mary's 



22 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

brocade, precious stones, goldsmithery, and even the illuminations of the 
sumptuous breviary they bestowed upon her. Rossetti gave her no 
ornaments, except the gilded nimbus, which, as in other pictures, glows 
round her hair and was kindled as the angel spoke. She is covered from 
head to foot-heel by a simple robe of lawn, leaving her arms bare, and 
her dark auburn tresses fall on her shoulders, and, like the contour of her 
bust and limbs, have not the amplitude of womanhood. It suited 
Rossetti's views of his subject that the Virgin, who is almost girlish in 
her slenderness, should have but lately passed out of the adolescent state 
into a riper one Fra Angelico, whose designs of the Rosa Mystica are 
the chastest and most original of all, witness the lovely Annunciation of 
St. Marco's convent and that other which Sir F. Burton has lately 
acquired for the National Gallery, never produced a maiden more 
passionless than this ; her earnest and reverent eyes brood, not without 
knowledge of the pain to come (a point which had been made of yore), 
upon the meaning of Gabriel's salutation ; while awestruck, but not over- 
powered, she shrinks against the wall, whose whiteness differentiates the 
candour of her raiment, and contrasts with the lustrous aureole of 
metallic gold which incloses the dark warmth of her tresses — the unbound 
condition of which has, of course, a meaning all readers recognize in 
relation to the Dove which, as in all early pictures of the Annunciation, 
descends from above, hovers towards Mary, and is indicated by the 
declaration of the Angelic harbinger. Nearly all the more ancient 
pictures of the Italian, German, and Low Country Schools, not less 
than cognate sculptured representations of this subject, give magnifi- 
cent if not royal habiliments — sometimes even (as if the gentle 
Gabriel were the warlike Michael) archangelic coronets, armour, and 
weapons to the harbinger of Heaven when appearing to Mary. He 
is usually winged, and his vast pinions, glittering in gold, azure and 
vermilion, and semee with stars, reach from his superb tiara to the 
floor. A stupendous design by Holbein gives a Gabriel all glorious 
to behold, with pinions such as we seem to hear rustling ; while in a 
voice mighty but subdued, he, robed like the Kaiser and grasping the 
sceptre of his Archangel hood, delivers his message to a round-eyed and 
plump Jungfrau very different from Rossetti's, while the fattest of doves 
appears between the imperial angel and the ponderous maiden. These 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSE'TTI 23 

figures indicate a motive quite other than that here in question, in which 
the stalwart, wingless harbinger, who is simply clad in white irom 
radiant head to fiery feet, and holds the lily — an emblem and a sceptre 
in one — which it is his duty to deliver to Mary, approaches her with a 
calm and passionless face, which assorts with his noble, unmoved, and 
undemonstrative air, as he stands erect, and — unlike the Gabriels of 
Angelico, Memmi, Diirer, Del Sarto, Raphael, Giovanni Santi, Tintoret 
and Rembrandt — makes no obeisance to Mary, not yet crowned Oueen 
of Heaven. In Tintoret's picture Gabriel rushes into the stately 
chamber of the Virgin as if on the wings of a whirlwind, and a host 
of angels follow him to witness the event. There is a second superb 
design of Holbein (now in the collection of Mr. Fisher of Midhurst) 
in which the grand angel, with a world of draperies flying in his haste, 
enters before the kneeling and tremulous Virgin, while his sword-like 
pinions are fully displayed as he grasps a long sceptre with one hand, 
and, with the other extended in a minatory way, speaks as in a voice of 
thunder. 

This picture was begun and finished in the squalid Cleveland Street 
studio. The face of Mary was a just and true likeness of Rossetti's 
sister, and was painted with hardly any alteration of her features or 
expression. The face of Gabriel was mostly founded on that of Woolner, 
whose hair supplied the characteristic form and colour of the arch- 
angel's. The nimbus of the archangel is proper to Rossetti's masterpiece 
like the other emblematic lustres of the design, while there is special 
significance in the fiery feet of the Messenger of God. The idea of the 
Annunciation as a mystery, thus illustrated by the namesake of the 
Harbinger is imperfectly appreciated without recognition of the character 
of the fire streaming from the feet of the Messenger of Peace as he 
approached the earth. 

While — not without struggles and efforts innumerable and gallant, 
for Rossetti's technique was, in 1849, m a somewhat uncertain and 
tentative condition — this picture was in progress, the Germ was concocted 
and put forth. The first number of that amazing publication appeared 
on "Magazine Day" of December, 1849. The last number (4) was 
issued soon after he wrote on Ecce Ancilla Domini ! the date, 
March, 1850. In this year the picture was No. 225 in the Portland 



24 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

Gallery, 316 Regent Street, to which place the tenants of the 
Hyde Park Gallery had removed their exhibition. Ecce Ancilla 
Domini ! was priced in the catalogue at ^50. It was returned unsold 
and remained on the painter's easel till January 1853, when Mr. 
McCracken, a packing agent of Belfast, who, Mr. W. Rossetti tells us, had 
never seen the picture, bought it for the original price ; after his death it 
changed hands more than once, including those of Mr. Heugh, with 
whose collection it was in 1874 sold ; for ^388 10 s. it passed to the 
collection of Mr. William Graham, who soon after Rossetti's death lent 
it to the Academy Winter Exhibition of 1883; at his sale in 1886 
it was bought (price £840) for the National Gallery out of a fund 
bequeathed by the late Mr. John Lucas Walker. It is now No. 12 10 
in the Gallery. 1 It has been etched not quite successfully by M. 
Gaujean. 

Simultaneously with the execution of The Girlhood of Mary, Virgin, 
and in the same dismal Cleveland Street studio above described, Mr. 
Holman Hunt painted his famous Death of Rienzfs Brother, which 
only concerns us here because, in the rather grotesque (a term I use not 
depreciatingly) face of Rienzi vowing to be revenged on the boy's 
murderers, we have that which is by much the truest portrait of 
D. G. Rossetti as he appeared at that time. The pallor of his 
carnations was exaggerated and made more adust to suit the passion 
of the incident ; but the large, dark eyes, strongly marked dark 
eyebrows, bold, dome-like forehead, the abundant long and curling hair 
falling on each side of the face, and especially the full red lips con- 
spicuous in the picture are, or rather were, of Rossetti to the life. This 
fine and important painting having deteriorated in a deplorable manner, 
has been so much retouched as to have parted with nine-tenths of its 
historical and artistic value. Not long before it was completed Madox 
Brown painted a much less startling version of Rossetti's head in his 

1 Here is Rossetti's opinion of his own work as communicated to Mr. W. Bell Scott in 
a letter dated "Kelmscott, June 17th, 1874. My dear Scotus, — A little early thing of my 
own, Annunciation [this title the painter preferred for his picture when he sold it to Mr. 
McCracken], painted when I was twenty-one — sold to Agnew at Christie's the other 
day (to my vast surprise) for nearly .£400. Graham has since bought it of Agnew, and 
has sent it to me for possible revision, but it is best left alone, except just for a touch or 
two. Indeed my impression on seeing it was that I couldn't do quite so well now ! " 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 25 

picture of Chaucer reading the Legend of distance to Edward TIL, and 
to the present writer described his doing so in a letter ] dated 
November 21st, 1882. 

The latter part of the year 1849 was not on ^y signalised in the manner 
above stated, but by the inception of and preparation for the publication 
of the Germ. With W. M. Rossetti for the editor the first number 
comprised of Dante Rossetti's writing " Songs of Our Household, 
No. 1," a poem, and the first version of "Hand and Soul," a prose 
romance in which it is impossible to avoid recognising the quasi- 
nuptial and deeply devout motives of "The Girlhood of Mary, Virgin, and 
Ecce Ancilla Domini ! as they clothed themselves anew in words. They 
are both the prototypes of those legions of poems and novelettes of which 
the prose and verse romances of Mr. William Morris are the most 
fortunate examples. - 

1 Here is part of the letter in question : "The Chaucer was exhibited at the Royal 
Academy. 50 [No. 380, 1851], at Liverpool, where it won the £50 prize, in 1859; 
at my own exhibition [in 1865, in Pall Mall], and bought for the public gallery at 
Sydney, N.S.W. When at Liverpool it belonged to David Thomas White, who wished 
to cut it up (!) ; so I got it back from him in exchange for smaller work. Deverell, as 
you rightly remember, sat for the page [sitting in front, an admirable likeness of our dear 
boy-friend] ; W. M. Rossetti, who then had his hair [i.e. previous to his becoming bald], 
for the troubadour ; John Marshall, the great surgeon, sat for the jester. I remember 
his mother's and sister's surprise ! D. G. Rossetti sat for Chaucer himself, and was the 
very image of Occlcve's little portrait. I began the head of Chaucer (Rossetti and I 
both at the top of a high scaffolding [in a large studio at No. 17 Newman Street, where 
Rossetti worked under Brown, as before stated], he reading to me), at 1 1 p.m., and 
finished it by 4 a.m. next morning ; when daylight came it looked all right, so I never 
touched it again." 

The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, a sort of reflection of the Germ, published a 
few years later, abounds in proofs of Rossetti's influence on Messrs. Morris and his 
entourage. The first number of the Germ contained, besides the above, in "The 
Seasons," a lovely lyric by Mr. Coventry Patmore ; Miss Christina Rossetti's versed 
dirge, called "Dream Land," as well as "An End " by the same ; a sonnet and a review 
by her younger brother ; a delightfully fresh " Sketch from Nature," by John L. Tupper, 
and Woolner's "My Beautiful Lady." In "Hand and Soul " it is easy for his intimates 
to recognise the outpourings, protests, and introspective lamentations, the doubts, self- 
fears, and partial despair of his future of the author himself, then struggling with himself 
to attain means and powers sufficient for his devotion, his hopes, and his ambition. In 
No. 2 of the Germ we find the first version of " The Blessed Damosel," a poem which 
in after years supplied a theme and subject for one of Rossetti's most important pictures. 
In No. 3 he contributed "The Carillon," one of the fruits of a journey to Paris and the 



26 



DslNTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 



It is time to set forth the prodigious influence exercised in 1841 and 
later by the then hardly recognized poetry of Robert Browning upon 
Rossetti and the more imaginative members of that circle of which he 
had already become the leader. This could not be better illustrated than 




The Laboratory. 



by the cut which, thanks to the courtesy of Mr. Fairfax Murray, is now 
before us and entitled The Laboratory ^ of which the story is that a 

Low Countries, and "From the Cliffs," a poem. In No. 4 his contributions were "Pax 
Vobis," and "Six Sonnets for Pictures" in the Louvre and Luxembourg at Paris, and in 
the Academy at Bruges. 

1 The subject for this work Rossetti appears to have found during abundant reading 
at the British Museum, which, among other results, led to his introducing himself to the 
author of Paracelsus and Sordello, by means of a letter expressing the highest admiration 
and keenest appreciation for that poet's works, then collected under the title of Bells and 
Pomegranates, " The Laboratory " originally appeared in Hood's Magazine in 1 844, and was 
reprinted in No. VII. of Bells and Pomegranates, 1845, where, no doubt, Rossetti first 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 27 

Court-lady of the ancien regime, who had been jilted, and become mad- 
dened by love and furiously jealous of a fairer rival, visited in his 
"devil's smithy" a lean old chemist and poison-monger like the 
apothecary in Romeo and Juliet, and by the gift of all her jewels, nay, 
the kisses of her mouth, bribed that gaunt villain to concoct a "drop." 
When he had finished the dire compound, she cried to him as in 
the picture 

"Is it done? Take my mask oft"! Nay, be not morose, 
It kills her, and this prevents seeing it close : 
The delicate droplet, my whole fortune's fee — 
If it hurts her ; beside, can it ever hurt me ? " 

The original of this cut is noteworthy as the first of Rossetti's com- 
pleted works in water-colours, materials which he had not, except 
tentatively, till then employed, and because it has such a bold and original 
design, and is painted in such brilliant and strong colours that no one can 
regard it without surprise. Apart from the voluptuous suggestiveness — 
which was quite new from Rossetti — of the design, the snake-like viru- 
lence of the lady's face, the deadly passion of her clenched hand, the eager 
wrath of her sudden uprising, the lovely brilliance of her carnations — a 
little paled by rage and envy, the sumptuousness of her bust, and the 
vivid coloration of this striking little work attest the development of 
the artist in a way his biographers have failed to observe, although these 

met with it and numerous other pieces which he and all his company took the highest 
delight in reading, and in assimilating to their hearts' content the "scraps of thund'rous 
epic lilted out " by the painter-poet. It was with regard to poems of Browning's that, at 
the time in view here, Rossetti chiefly exercised his unrivalled power of reading aloud and 
the gigantic resources of his memory. Nearly all the P-R.B., except perhaps Collinson, 
were sympathetic adepts in reading aloud, but none of them approached Rossetti, 
whose musical, modulated, and sonorous voice still rings in the ears of those who 
remember with what vigour, spirit, and poetic appreciation the dear comrade of those 
days took his part in reading thus. As to his memory of poems, that seemed inex- 
haustible, when nothing was missed in the recital of a Lay of Ancient Rome, a longish poem 
of Tennyson, sections of Henry Taylor's Philip van Artevelde, sequences of a dozen 
pages each from Paracelsus or Sordello, passages of Dante and other Italians faultlessly 
quoted, and other poetic jewellery borrowed from Leigh Hunt, Landor, Wordsworth, 
Chaucer, and Spenser, and stored in the prodigious mind of the poet who recited them, 
and was destined to add to the wonders of English verse such treasures as Sister Helen, 
Jenny, and The Burthen of Nineveh. All his life Rossetti was great in reading and 
reciting aloud, and continued the practices to the last. 



28 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 



r \ 



>..- 






elements are noteworthy in the highest degree. They mark the opening 
of his second period, they excel in movement as in ardour of all kinds, 
remind us of Madox Brown, his true master, and, as it appears to me, 

owe much to what the designer had 
learnt during a visit made in the autumn 
of 1 849 to Paris and the Low Countries, 
part of the outcome of which were the 
sonnets published in the Germ of 1850, 
that with rare poetic force and skill 
commented on several masterpieces of 
old art which Rossetti had studied in the 
Louvre and at Bruges. 1 

The Laboratory distinctly reflects the 
intense illuminations and pure colour of 
Memlinc's and Giorgione's (so-called) 
pictures at those places, to which the 
painter had addressed the sonnets of 
1 849. In the early part of the next year, 
he, by way of continuing his share in the 
Germ, wrote a tale of unhappy love 
intended for the fifth, or April num- 
ber thereof, but which never appeared, 
although Millais etched his first plate to 
illustrate Rossetti's text with the design of a lady dying while sitting for 
her portrait. Neither the tale, which was called St. Agnes of Inter- 
cession, nor the etching was finished, and the latter is now one of the 




Y i1 1 

'__'• ' : ^-'i ■■■■ h 



Pages Quarrelling. 



1 Although it is in many respects the most important of Rossetti's illustrations to 
Browning, The Laboratory is not the first of them. Previous to this he had begun 
in pen and ink a very elaborate and characteristic illustration to Pippa Passes, in three 
compartments, the central one of which, representing "Hist!" said Kate the Queen, 
seems to have gone astray. The part particularized was the original of a water- 
colour drawing lent by Mrs. Spring Rice, as No. 12, to the Burlington Club in 
1883, and of a portion of an unfinished picture in oil, called The Two Mothers, which 
Mr. Hutton lent to the same exhibition. About 1852 Rossetti drew in ink, and gave as 
a keepsake to the present writer, Taurello's first Sight of Fortune, Burlington Club, 
No. 21, where it was wrongly dated "C. 1848." This work derives its origin from 
Sordello, and is the sole illustration to that poem ; it was designed to commemorate the 
giver's and the receiver's ardent studies anent " Sordello's delicate spirit all unstrung." 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSS ETTI 



29 



scarcest of its kind. Rossetti, too, began an etching to illustrate his own 
narrative, but it was soon put aside. It was about this time, or a little 
later, that, wanting to improve his knowledge of perspective, a 
subject of the Royal Academy curriculum to which he had never 
addressed himself, he came to me to be helped in that respect. That 
he was a perfectly intelligent, 
but not a very diligent learner 
is shown by the rough sketch 
of two medieval pages quarrel- 
ling here reproduced from among 
a score of such remaining on 
sheets of his exercises in the 
little science. Assuming the airs 
of a teacher, I had complained 
that he neglected his work. His 
reply was this sketch, intended 
to show what I should incur by 
continuing to grumble. The ob- 
lique lines athwart the feet of the 
figures are parts of the diagram. 1 
Still later, but of the same 
period, is the profile portrait of 

himself, drawn with a pen, and here reduced from a sketch which Rossetti 
gave to our friend Arthur Hughes, whose picture of April Love is one 




D. G. Rossetti. 



1 Rossetti had so much humour that he cared little who, if good-naturedly, 
caricatured him, and he often sketched himself in odd circumstances and con- 
ditions. One of these sketches, made in 1849, lies before me now, and is ludicrously 
like in all its exaggerations of a huge head clothed by masses of dark, unkempt 
curling hair, and inclosing gaunt features, a short beard and moustache, large, hollow 
and "detached "-looking eyes; the head is set upon sloping shoulder? rounded 
by a slight habitual stoop, and carried forward in an eager sort of way, which 
is true to the life ; the chest is narrow, the hips are wide. The artist's attire is 
the above-mentioned long-tailed dress coat, a loose dress waistcoat, and loose trousers. 
The sketch attests Rossetti's manner of gripping with his half-clenched fingers the cuff of 
his coat — a spasmodic habit which was highly characteristic of his nervous, self-concen- 
trated temperament. Much the best description of Rossetti at this period is Mr. 
Holman Hunt's account of himself and "The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood," printed in 
the Contemporary Review, vol. xlix., p. 737 ; the best portrait of him, apart from the 



30 DJNTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

of the most tender-hearted and subtle love-poems in the world, an idyl 
of ineffable pathos and sweetness. 

In 1850 Rossetti completed the famous drawing in ink. with a pen, 
entitled Hesterna Rosa, which illustrates the song, pregnant of sorrow and 
shame, of Elena, the mistress of Philip van Artevelde, in Sir Henry 
Taylor's noble drama. The motto of Hesterna Rosa is : — • 

"Quoth tongue of neither maid nor wife 
To heart of neither wife nor maid, 
'Lead we not here a jolly life 
Betwixt the shine and shade ? ' 

"Quoth heart of neither maid nor wife 

To tongue of neither wife nor maid, 
'Thou wag'st, but I am worn with strife, 

And feel like flowers that fade ! " 

The scene is a tent pitched in a pleasaunce and, though a pallid 
dawn gathers force among the trees, still lit by lamps from within, so that 
the gaunt and ghostlike shadows of a party of revellers seated in front of 
the design flicker and start ominously upon the canvas walls. One 
gambler is seated on a couch and throwing dice upon a stool placed 
before the group, while his companion kneels opposite and, with a goat- 
like action, draws between his lips the finger of his mistress, the 
singer, and Hesterna Rosa of the design, who, half hiding her face with 
her disengaged hand, sits behind him. He is waiting the cast of his 
companion's dice and will, in turn, throw his own dice upon the stool. 
Another girl, the mistress of the former, sits above him on the couch, and 
while she seems to be chanting a merry, perhaps ribald, song, has thrown 
her bare and beautiful arms about his neck. Near them, on our left, is 
a young girl holding to her ear, as if to catch the lowest throbbing of 
its notes, a sort of lute, while on the other side is a huge ape, grossly 
scratching himself, and thus intended to repeat the sensual half of the 
motif of the design, just as the lute-player repeats the sadder, less 
degraded pathos of the other half. 

already-mentioned and somewhat exaggerated head of Rienzi, is that of the guest, who 
in Millais' Lorenzo ana Isabella is drinking from a wine-glass ; here the pallor of the 
sitter's face is overdone, but the likeness is otherwise perfect. Mr. W. M. Rossetti sat 
for Lorenzo in this picture. 



CHAPTER II 

1851 — 1861 

In 1 85 1 we find Rossetti removed to a studio on the first floor at 
No. 72, Newman Street, and in his art likewise removed from those hide- 
binding influences which inexperience forced upon him in Cleveland 
Street. The Germ having changed its name with the third number to 
Art and Poetry, had come to an end, and with it the central point, so 
to say, of our subject's life had shifted from the religious and mystical 
purposes of his first period to those intensely dramatic and romantic, 
and sometimes voluptuous, impulses which 'The Laboratory heralded 
and illustrated. The last-named year produced, besides smaller ex- 
amples of less account, a fine and masculine drawing in ink, now 
the property of Mr. Coventry Patmore and called The Parable of 
Love, where a lady sits at an easel painting her own portrait, while 
her lover, stooping over her, guides her hand with his own. The 
motives and style of this example, which has never been engraved 
or copied, have even more fibre than those of The Laboratory . The 
lover is a portrait of Woolner. To be grouped with it is Mr. 
Boyce's brilliant and powerful drawing in water colours, called Borgia, 
for which the design in ink dates in 1850. This little piece measures 
only 9^- x 10 inches, but it has that largeness of style we appreciate 
highly in an old master, and a brilliant and powerful coloration as well 
as vivid and finely harmonised colours proper, especially a rich amber 
and a strong black, which latter is thus, for the first time, found in 
Rossetti's work, and a potent element in the well conceived chiaroscuro 
of the whole. Lucrezia Borgia is seated on a couch playing on a lute 
to the sound of which a boy and a girl are dancing with wonderful spirit 
and energy ; behind the sumptuously developed and splendidly clad dame 
sit the infamous Pope Alexander VI. and her brother Caesar. The latter 
is blowing the rose-petals from amid the labyrinth of his sister's hair, 



32 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

gazing eagerly at her, and with his dagger beating time to the music 
upon a half-filled wineglass at his side. Belonging to the same group 
as Borgia, and the property of the same distinguished water-colour 
painter and friend of Rossetti, is the original drawing in ink with a 
pen, styled How they Met Themselves, an impressive illustration of the 
ancient German legends anent the Doppelganger, which is here repro- 
duced from one of the two water-colour versions, painted in 1864. It 
is now in the possession of Mr. Pepys Cockerel], and was developed from 
the original. 

Two lovers are walking in a twilight wood when they are suddenly 
confronted by their own apparitions portending death ; she sinking 
to the earth, stretches out her arms as if appealing for mercy, while 
he, bolder but overawed, lays his hand upon his sword. Dramatic as 
it is, this design is not so virile and pathetic as the original drawing. 
Giotto Painting the Portrait of Dante is the most vigorous and apt ex- 
ample of 1852, and with an extraordinary sense of style and largeness 
in design represents the great Florentine master whom (because of the 
majestic simplicity of his motives and compositions) of all the old 
painters Rossetti most affected, sitting on a scaffold erected before a 
wall in the Bargello at Florence and in the act of painting that likeness 
of Dante, which, having been discovered by Mr. Kirkup in 1839, ls 
still visible there. The austere poet is placed in a chair, with his 
knees crossed ; he holds a pomegranate and maintains a dreamy, self- 
absorbed expression ; Cimabue stands near Giotto and looks at his fellow 
painter's work ; Guido Cavalcanti is behind his fellow poet ; below, 
upon the pavement of the chapel, we see Beatrice in a procession of 
worshippers. This picture is in water colours and has all the freshness 
and brightness, with some of the dryness, of a fresco. The text of 
Dante's Pur gator io, c. xi. beginning 

" Crcdette Cimabue nclla pintura 
Tcner lo campo," — 

is most aptly illustrated by this noble design. 1 

1 A sketch for it was shown, a most exceptional circumstance with regard to a 

Rossetti, as No. 7, in a "Winter Exhibition of Drawings and Sketches at 121 Pall Mall, 

1852 " ; with it were his Beatrice meeting Dante at a Marriage Feast (196), and A Sketch 

for a Portrait in Venetian Costume (20). It appears that Rossetti's offered contributions 




How they Met themselves. 



3+ DANTE GABRIEL ROSSET?I 

It is certain that prices for Rossetti's pictures did not at this time 
"rule high." On the contrary we learn that in April, 1853, Mr. 
McCracken of Belfast, our painter's staunch admirer, gave him the sum 
of £35 for the masterpiece called Dante on the Anniversary of Beatrice's 
Death, of which a plate from the water colour drawing in the late Mrs. 
Combe's collection, recently given to the University of Oxford, is now 
before the reader. 

The print shows the motives, design, and composition of the picture, 
but no reproduction in black and white can give an adequate idea of its 
subtlety, brilliancy, and colour. The subject was thus quoted by 
Rossetti himself from Dante's Vita Nuova, a mine of mystical, intro- 
spective and suggestive matter to which at this time the painter, more 
than before or since, devoted his attention with great energy. 1 His 
ideal mistress being dead, Dante wrote, " On that day which completed 
the year since my lady had been made [one] of the citizens of Eternal 
Life, I was sitting in a place apart, where, remembering me of her, I 
was drawing an angel upon certain tablets, and as I drew, I turned my 
eyes and saw beside me persons to whom it was fitting to do honour, 
and who were looking at what I did : and, according as it was told to 
me afterwards, they had been there a while before I perceived them. 
Observing whom, I rose for salutation and said, ' Another was present with 
me.' ' In the design Dante is kneeling before a window opening above 
the Arno and Florence, and upon the sill of which stand bottles of 
pigments for painting, likewise a significant pomegranate, while, beneath 
the sill, lies with other things the quaint lute alluded to in the previous 
note upon " Hesterna Rosa." Dante — his attention being called from his 
task by the officious friend who introduced " certain people of import- 
ance " his visitors, — the impression of sorrowful thought still lingering 
in his eyes, — turns to look at the latter, who are an elderly magnate and 
his fair, tall and stately daughter. The father's action indicates that he 
would fain check the intrusive action of the busybody, while the lady, one 

to a preceding exhibition of the same scries, which was held in 1 851 at the gallery of 
the Old Water-Colour Society, had been, as he said, "kicked out of the precious place 
in Pall Mall." 

1 Browning, too, in his " One Word More," published in Men and Women, 1855, ii. 
229, sympathetically treated this subject. 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 35 

of her hands clasping the senior's hand, thus expresses her sympathy 
with the sorrow of Dante and her tender regret that he has been dis- 
turbed. Among the objects within the room are an hour-glass with 
its sand more than half run down, a flowering lily stem, a convex 
mirror (the existence of which at this time is challengeable), a votive 
picture of the Virgin and Child, and round the wall, a row of the heads- 
of cherubs who, like 

"Carved angels, ever eager-eyed, 
Stared, where upon their heads the cornice rests, 
With hair blown back, and wings put cross-wise on their breasts." 

Outside the chamber and beyond the half-withdrawn portiere we see 
a closet with a brass cistern suspended over a basin for washing hands, 
one of those quite " impracticable " staircases which, as with his musical 
instruments, were the despair of the specialists, and, farther off, a serene 
landscape, comprising a sunlit meadow, a shadowy wood, and, overhead, 
that brooding, softly-glowing firmament, which, with Rossetti as with 
other poet-painters, attests the perfect peace of a Paradise beyond the 
grave. In this way the artist took us from the busy Arno, past the dim, 
half-lighted room where Dante sojourned with his grief, and through 
the narrow pass of Death, whose purifying function is indicated by the 
basin and its appurtenances, until, remote but bright, the pleasaunce of 
Eternity is discovered to be " beyond the veil," which is represented by 
the portiere. 

As in the picture before us, the often-mentioned Miss Elizabeth 
Eleanor Siddall, who afterwards became Mrs. Dante G. Rossetti, appears 
for the first time in the figure of the compassionate lady, a few lines con- 
cerning her may be acceptable. Some time late in 1850 Walter Deverell, 
going with his mother to a then renowned bonnet-maker's " establish- 
ment " in Cranbourne Street (then called an "alley"), and being 
dreadfully bored while the lady discussed a new purchase with the prin- 
cipal, happened in his boyish and restless mood to glance wearily along 
the counter to where, in the background of the shop, a group of 
assistants could be seen diligently building head-gear of the latest mode. 
Among these damsels sat one conspicuous by a rare sort of comeliness, 
tall, elegant, lithe, slim-waisted, not exuberant nor otherwise of the order 

c 2 



36 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

Rossetti afterwards affected, as in the Venus Verticordia and other 
sumptuous visions to which we shall come presently, but precisely of the 
type we recognize in the compassionate visitor of Dante. Her abundant 
hair was of a darkish auburn-brown, with golden threads entwined, and 
bound compactly about her rather small and well-shaped head, which 
nature poised in graceful ease upon a " neck like a tower," as Rossetti 
said about that royal charm of one of the beauties his fancy had created. 
Her carnations, " rather pale than wan," were not without freckles 
Deverell at a distance did not see, but, under these spots of the sun, her 
fine skin was even-tinted and smooth, while her features were as choicely 
modelled as those of an Italian cinque-cento bronze of the purest kind. In 
a moment " our dear boy," as all his friends called Deverell, was on fire 
to paint this strangely found beauty as Viola in a picture of Twelfth 
Night he had in hand, and for whom the model must needs be filled with 
an inward and spiritual grace and modesty. For Walter to ask was to 
command his mother, and that lady exerted herself so successfully with 
the bonnet-maker, the damsel, and her father — who was a watchmaker 
originally from Sheffield and then settled somewhere in the Newington 
Butts region — that the desired sittings were granted to Deverell, who, poor 
fellow, dying young, never did the maiden justice, nor quite carried out 
his meaning in the picture. Soon after this Rossetti persuaded Miss Siddall 
to sit to him in turn, and thus began a close relationship, including 
Rossetti's falling in love with his model, their engagement in or about 
1853, and his marrying her in May, i860. Her death, in lamentable 
circumstances and some time after childbearing, occurred through an 
over-dose of laudanum, inadvertently taken to relieve the agonies of 
neuralgia. This pain was a symptom of that phthisis which had long 
threatened the life of the ill-starred Mrs. D. G. Rossetti. Here repro- 
duced is a sketch of her, made by her husband at a later date (? c. 1859) 
than that to which we have arrived, and now the property of Mr. Fairfax 
Murray, who kindly lent the original for reproduction. Naturally, 
Rossetti made countless sketches and studies from his wife, and not 
seldom included her in his pictures, as in Regina Cordium, 1861. Several 
of these examples were at the Burlington Club, 1883 ; many more at the 
Rossetti sale at Christie's, May 12, 1883. 

One of the most interesting pictures produced, or rather left incom- 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 



37 



plete, by Rossetti is that to which the progress of time and this narrative 
brings us with the year 1853. It is a work anent which, more than any 
other by our master, numerous erroneous statements have been made, and 
yet, Found, of the original pen drawing in ink of which, thanks to 
Mr. Fairfax Murray, the reader has a capital reproduction, is a 
noteworthy instance of Rossetti having for the nonce departed out of his 
then accustomed pietistic and romantic moods and entered upon a moral 
and modern application of design. 
Although an entirely original 
work, and, in the touching, simple ■ 
and veracious nature of its theme, 
far superior to Mr. Hoi man 
Hunt's somewhat analogous pro- 
duction, The Awakening Con- 
science, which preceded it before 
the public, it is difficult to avoid 
thinking that the moving and 
terrible story of the latter work 
had not much to do with turning 
Rossetti's attention to, and in- 
suring his sympathy for unhappy 
women of the class with the fate 
of whom both these pictures are 
concerned. Rossetti must have 
seen it, and could not but be 
deeply touched. The theme, as 
well as the intensely realistic 
treatment of Found are completely 

" Huntean " and remote from Rossetti's mood, which was, if the truth 
be said, rather over-scornful of didactic art, and thoroughly indisposed 
towards attempts to ameliorate anybody's condition by means of pictures. 
The incident Rossetti imagined follows, as it were, in a natural 
sequence that of Mr. Hunt's invention. The latter implied a seduced 
woman in the house of her seducer ; the former shows her deserted, 
expelled, and, whether self-wrecked or not, a wanderer in the streets of 
London, while we may suppose the grim Nemesis of her sex was leading 




The Artist's Wife. 



38 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

her towards a veritable Bridge of Sighs, where it was but too likely 
the fate of Hood's 

" One more unfortunate, 
Even God's providence 
Seeming estranged," 

awaited her. The time was soon after the chilly silvery dawn had 
dispersed the gloom which concealed the victim, and there was light 
enough to reveal her form to the young countryman, who, driving 
townwards to market, no sooner saw the still fair face set in pale 
golden hair than he recognized the once pure maiden, formerly his 
betrothed, who, years before, had left his village and was lost in 
London. Leaping from the cart he seized the girl's hands and held her 
firmly, while shrinking to the ground, she struggled and turned her face 
away in vain. Beyond this the design tells its own story and we may 
leave it so, adding, however, that it illustrates the motto " I remember 
thee ; the kindness of thy youth, the love of thy betrothal," Jerem. ii. 2, 
with which it is inscribed. Rossetti's original idea is expressed in the 
drawing now before us and some time in 1854 he, having made studies 
for parts of it, seems to have begun, or intended to begin, the work on 
the canvas. Several of the studies, squared for transferring, were 
included in the painter's sale. He did not get very far with the 
picture, the stringency of naturalistic painting not suiting his mood nor 
his experience. It was taken up at intervals of years, was commissioned 
by Mr. Leathart of Gateshead, but, not advancing, never reached that 
gentleman's hands; was revived in 1870, again in 1880, and commis- 
sioned again by Mr. W. Graham. As it happened, although part of the 
background was, after Rossetti's death, put in by another hand, Found 
was never finished as the painter meant it should have been. Despite 
some disproportions, questionable perspective and inequalities of details, 
it remains a masterpiece of poetry with exquisite parts. It is hardly 
needful to point out to those who have observed the allusive wealth of 
incidents in Dante on the Anniversary of Beatrice's Death, that Found 
abounds in similar details. Among these are that the girl crouches 
against the wall of a churchyard — " where the wicked cease from 
troubling, and the weary are at rest " ; that the brightening dawn 
symbolizes, as it may be, peace (with forgiveness) on earth, or in 



"--„ 



h - 







■j t;'j\ttcui, p> 



Ittrl&etU&Ai 



rl/Clllld . 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 39 

Heaven, after sorrow ; while the calf trammelled in the net, and, 
helpless, carried in the cart to its death, points to the past and present 
life of the girl. This allusion is the least happy of Rossetti's " morali- 
ties," because, unlike the harmless beast, the woman had betrayed every 
one — father, mother, brother, and even the lover who had trusted her. 1 

Rossetti, who was in fairly good health at the time in question, and 
depressed rather than permanently defeated by the fate of Found, now 
for a while continued to design and paint in water colours, inventing his 
own subjects entirely, or, when older themes were adopted, giving them 
the new life and light of the genius which informed them with fresh 
fire, and left little but the title which was not his own. These themes 
were mostly romantic and dashed with mysticism, and they frequently 
referred to legends of the Arthurian cycle, the too-often dry bones and 
rickety whimsicalities of which Rossetti never failed to vivify, while he 
glorified them with light and colour. Apart from them, — and yet not 
quite distinct from the romantic class proper as to their poetic motives 
and technical treatment, — is a fine series derived from Dante, which 
occupied Rossetti during 1854 and 1855. Of this number the triptych 
of Paolo and Francesca, which Mr. Ruskin coveted intensely and 
bought, is to be reckoned. As it resembles a later version of the 
same subject, dated 1862, and introduced in this text, it is expedient to 
pass on to The Passover in the Holy Family, now at Oxford, the gift of 
the author of Modern Painters, which represents the porch of the house 

1 It is believed that the difficulties attending the completion of Found in the oil medium 
(with which he was then temporarily less accustomed to deal), and the sharp disappoint- 
ment attending those difficulties, had a good deal to do with the changes of his mood 
and that "detachedness " which grew upon him from this time. Engaged to marry Miss 
Siddall, and deeply in love with her, he could not but suffer while her health was fre- 
quently broken. When the time for their wedding approached, in May, i860, Rossetti 
caused the wall between Nos. 14. and 13 in Chatham Place to be broken through, and 
thenceforth he occupied, as in a modern flat, the second-floors in both houses. There, in 
February, 1862, after a very brief period of wedded union, his wife died, after which he 
remained no longer than, with an interval of lodging in Lincoln's Inn Fields, sufficed to 
secure the mansion called Tudor House, No. 16, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, where he 
settled in October, 1862, and where all his later pictures that were painted in London 
were executed, and of which he remained the tenant till his death. It may be added 
that one of the best likenesses of Miss Siddall is the face of Sylvia in Mr. Holman 
Hunt's Valentine Rescuing Sylvia, painted in 1850-51. 



4 o DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

of Joseph, as Rossetti conceived it, with Zacharias sprinkling the door- 
posts with symbolical blood held in a bowl by the boy Jesus, while, 
stooping at the feet of the latter, St. John is, according to his own 
declaration, fastening the shoe-latchet of the Saviour. " And Mary culls 
the bitter herbs ordained." Although never quite finished, this is a 
very pure, delicate and brilliant piece, with motives at once reverent and 
tender, and as Mr. Ruskin noticed, exceptionally realistic in treatment. 
Probably efforts made with regard to Found had influenced the artist to 
follow nature in this respect. There appears (the accounts are very 
contusing) to be more than one version of this example ; the subject 
Rossetti described in one of his " Sonnets for Pictures," Poems, 1 870, p. 266. 
The design, combining mysticism with types prophetic, is truly in the 
artist's characteristic vein. After this came the very different Lancelot 
and Guinevere at the Tomb of Arthur, a brilliant study of sunlight in 
an apple orchard, where, under the fruit-laden trees (here introduced 
significantly), lies the altar-tomb of King Arthur, with his effigies 
all in armour lying upon it, while the queen, habited as a nun of 
Glastonbury, and her quondam lover, clad in helmet and mail, have 
met and hold discourse about their former lives and sins. 1 

It was in 1856 Rossetti made five designs to illustrate Poems by Alfred 
Tennyson, which Moxon and Co. published in the following year, an event 
that, for the first time, really introduced our painter to the public at 
large. They are works of very great beauty, merit, and spirit, and 
represent Lancelot looking on the dead Lady of Shalott, Mariana in the 
South, The Palace of Art (two examples), and Sir Galahad. Their style, 
not less than their treatment, is thoroughly original, picturesque, and 
masculine, and quite different from any of the other illustrations in the 
volume.' 2 Their history is well told in his brother's book. Some, if not 

1 Mr. W. Morris's fiery-hearted poem, King Arthur's Tomb, included with The 
Defence of Guinevere, 1858, illustrates the subject Rossetti chose for his drawing, and 
owed edstence to it. While the catalogues refer to the Morte Arthur as the authority 
for the subject, I have not, although the first to describe the incident to Rossetti, been 
able to find anything about it in that wilderness of romance. 

- Being drawn on the blocks direct, the original designs were unfortunately, photo- 
graphy not then being applied to save them, cut away by the engraver. Photographs of 
these originals, showing how much had been lost in the cutting, were, happily, taken 
from the blocks in their pristine condition. Such photographs were included in a limited 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 41 

all these examples, Rossetti repeated in water-colours, and thus doubly 
extended his now growing reputation. The Blue Closet, a water-colour 
drawing executed for Mr. W. Morris, and now in the possession of Mr. 
George Rae of Birkenhead, belongs to 1857, and is one of the most ro- 
mantic and, of its kind, subtlest of the artist's "inventions," which, in 
the justest and strictest sense of the term, it is. It is hardly necessary to 
say that the poet-painter had already made the colours of his pictures har- 
monize with their pathos, this he did even when designing the coloration 
of Ecce Ancilla Domini ! in varieties of virginal white, giving the Venetian 
voluptuousness of Mr. Boyce's Borgia in sensuous splendours of diversely 
repeated reds, blacks, and yellows, and in the presageful gloom and 
terror of How they Met themselves, all haggard and woebegone, in the 
darkness of the shadow-haunted wood, and in the colours of the lover's 
dresses. Such harmony of subject and treatment is manifest in Mr. Rae's 
Blue Closet, an exercise intended to symbolize the association of colour 
with music. Four damsels appear in the composition, two of whom sing. 
Their dresses are respectively subdued purple and black, and pure emerald 
green and white. They occupy the rear of the group. The other pair 
are instrumentalists, and play on a double-keyed clavichord (a sort of a 
dulcimer) placed between them, while the one pinches the strings of a lute at 
her side, and her companion pulls the string of a little bell hanging 

exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite works which was formed in 1857 at the then No. 4, 
Russell Place, Fitzroy Square (now incorporated with Charlotte Street). This exhibition 
had of Rossetti's works, besides the five photographs, Dante's Dream at the Ti?ne of the 
Death of Beatrice, an early version of the great picture now at Liverpool ; The 
Anniversary of the Death oj Beatrice, of which a plate is before the reader of this text ; 
an unnamed example, Mary Nazarene ; Mary Magdalene ; Mr. Ruskin's drawing ; The 
Blue Closet, Mr. Rae's beautiful picture, soon to be described in these pages, and 
Hesterna Rosa. The exhibition continued for a short time only, and had nothing to 
do with that of the original Hogarth Club, of 178, Piccadilly, and later, 6, Waterloo 
Place, which was not formed till June, 1858, when a similar exhibition to the above 
was set up. These designs for woodcuts were not the first of Rossetti's making ; that 
distinction belongs to a charming illustration of Mr. Allingham's " Maids of Elfin 
Mere," published with The Music Master, 1855, and very much injured in the cutting. 
It represents three damsels clothed in white, who came 

"With their spindles every night ; 
Two and one, and three fair maidens, 
Spinning to a pulsing cadence, 
Singing songs of Elfen-mcrc." 



42 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

next to the lute. The chief colours of the foreground and its figures 
are those of the black-and-gold tapestry over the clavichord, the 
gold of the musical instruments, the white and crimson of the lute- 
player's garments, the scarlet, green, and white of those of her com- 
panion. As to the association of colour with music — of which this 
drawing is a subtle instance, more recondite than any of those examples 
where several old masters, and especially Rossetti himself, had made the 
coloration of their pictures subserve the pathetic expressiveness of their 
subjects — we may notice that the sharp accents of the scarlet and green 
seem to go with the sound of the bell ; the softer crimson, purple, and 
white accord with the throbbing notes of the lute and the clavichord, 
while the dulcet, flute-like voices of the girls appear to agree with those 
azure tiles on the walls and floor which gave to this fascinating drawing 
its name of The Blue Closet. The Wedding of St. George, another design 
in water-colours, likewise belonging to Mr. Rae, gives play of colour 
with sharp notes of red, yellow, and blue in contrast, and thus suggests 
the clashing of the joy-bells hanging in the background, which are 
struck with hammers by two very quaint attendant angels. The lovers 
are embracing after the combat which has delivered the lady from the 
clutches of the dragon. St. George's gilded corselet glows under his 
surcoat of scarlet, and the Princess's black tresses stream past her ardent 
face as she nestles to his breast. The champion's brooding looks (he 
was probably painted from Mr. W. Morris) indicate the danger he has 
undergone ; while the green and scaly head of the dragon, with red 
eyes of wrathful bloodthirstiness, is, as Rossetti was wont to say, 
conveniently packed in a case for despatch to Cappadocia. 

The next illustration of our narrative finds a place here. It repre- 
sents the prison scene in Faust, where the hero of Goethe's drama goes 
to the cell where, waiting an ignominious death because she had murdered 
her infant, Margaret is confined. By the aid of Mephistopheles he had 
provided means for her escape, but she, maddened by terror and love, 
passionately embraces him, and neglects his entreaties that she would seize 
the opportunity for flight. At the last moment the Tempter appears, as 
in the design, and vainly urges that it will soon be too late, and the 
executioners will arrive. The drawing has been kindly lent by Mr. 
Arthur Hughes, to whom Rossetti gave it long ago. 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 



43 



The Damsel of the Sangrael refers to the picture in the Union Room 
at Oxford, as described below, and now comes under notice. It was 
painted for Mr. W. Morris in 1857, and now belongs to Mr. Rae, to 
whom we owe much for leave to reproduce a characteristic work of the 
period in question, when Rossetti was deeply interested in the Mort Arthur, 



"SUf 





Margaret and Faust. 



of which, apart from Mr. Morris's passion for that romance, the nebulous 
splendours and fervours exactly suited the mood of the painter. The 
drawing shows a full-length figure of a damsel with dreamy eyes and com- 




The San Gracl. 



DJNTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 45 

posed Jips, standing erect and still, and as if aloof from the world, her 
tresses spreading wide upon her shoulders, while she holds in one hand the 
sacramental cup, that very chalice of the raptures of Sir Galahad and 
his comrades of the Round Table, implying the 

" Blessed Vision, Blood of God ! " 

which the champions sought to find somewhere upon this earth. It is 
a "romantic" (the painter's own term), rather than a mystically 
inspired version of a theme which hardly lends itself to art, and it is 
difficult to believe that Rossetti spontaneously attempted to deal with it. 

In the next cuts the reader has transcripts of some original designs, 
which Mr. Fairfax Murray has kindly lent, for one of the unfortunate 
pictures painted in 1857—8 on the walls of the Union Debating 
Society's Room at Oxford. Seeing that the walls were intended to be 
left bare, or at best, clothed in detestable stucco, Rossetti, who had 
long been ambitious of distinguishing himself in mural decoration 
on a larger scale, offered to enrich them with pictures associated 
with legends of the Arthurian cycle, such as have been referred to here. 
His offer, some preliminary difficulties being got over, was accepted, 
although it was of the most extreme rashness. It was impelled by a rare 
enthusiasm, and, because of the artist's absolute inexperience in painting 
otherwise than in oil or water-colours, was exceedingly unfortunate. 
Neither of these media being admissible, Rossetti decided to adopt dis- 
temper painting, of which, however, he knew practically next to nothing, 
not so much as concerned the right preparation of the walls to receive the 
colours, nor what pigments were trustworthy, nor how the effects of 
damp, gaseous and otherwise vitiated air upon the paintings were to be 
guarded against. He procured the aid of several brilliant artists to 
execute parts of the work, and so sanguine were the company that they 
actually hoped to finish in about a month, the series of pictures compris- 
ing numerous nearly life-size figures in well-filled compositions. 1 The 

1 The artists whose enthusiasm Rossetti raised to the highest pitch in this matter, 
were Mr. E. Burne-Jones ; Mr. W. Morris, of The Earthly Paradise ; Mr. Val Prinsep ; 
Mr. Arthur Hughes ; and Mr. R. Spencer Stanhope, whose devotional pictures are 
well known to the world. A more brilliant company it would, out of" Paradise, be 
difficult to select ; but not even Mr. Hughes, who was the best trained of" the group, 
knew much of distemper painting on a large scale. 



4 6 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 



efforts of six months were almost ruined before that period was com- 
plete. At the present time the decorations are not legible. Rossetti's 
picture, which was never finished, is not the most dilapidated of the 
whole ; it was intended to represent Sir Lancelot asleep before the Shrine of 
the San Grael. According to the legend it happened that, because of his 
sinning with Queen Guinevere the ever-victorious knight was not per- 








Study for Guinevere and Sir Lancelot. 



mitted to enter the sacred building which held the shrine : exhausted by 
travel and sorrow he rested on the earth outside that edifice and soon 
fell asleep ; while in this state he dreamt that his mistress appeared to him 
gorgeously arrayed, and with both arms extended while she held to the 
branches of an apple-tree, and looked at him with queenly pride and the 
loving pity of an ardent mistress who beheld the sufferings of her knight. 
In the air behind this group the Damsel of the San Grael is seen floating, 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 



47 



bearing the mysterious chalice that was unattainable by the impure of 
heart and frame, and refulgent in a sort of halo of angels. In the 
sketches here reproduced the reader has designs for parts of this un- 
fortunate picture, the splendour of which, while it lasted, was at once fine 




Study for Guinevere. 



and intense. In one the Queen, drawn from Miss Siddall, stands with 
arms extended upon the branches of the apple-tree and contemplates the 
sleeping Lancelot, some friend or model officiating in this capacity. It 
is so very like the Mr. Burne-Jones of 1857, that it was certainly 



4« 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSS ETTI 



drawn from him. In the next design the figure of Miss Siddall, as 
Guinevere, appears as before holding an apple ; the Damsel of the 
San Grael is omitted. In the third sketch we have the figure of the 
Ancilla San Grael attending the death of Sir Bors and presenting to 
that valiant, virtuous and holy knight the much desired chalice and 
the sacred bread. 

Belonging to the same category as the above group of sketches, is the 

transcript now before us from a 
design for Sir Lancelot escaping 
from the Chamber of Guinevere, 
which, though it is dated 1859, 
was probably produced during 
the period of those studies in the 
Mort Arthur which bore such 
splendid fruit as the above in- 
stances and The Chapel before the 
Lists, The Death of Breuse sans 
Pitie, both belonging to Mr. 
Rae ; Mr. Leathart's Sir Galahad 
in the Chapel, and less important 
works ; besides two or three 
potent drawings concerning St. 
George. Of the subject of the 
work now before us it will be 
remembered that the catastrophe 
of the intrigue of Lancelot and 
his royal mistress was brought 
about by the foes who surprised 
the guilty pair. Some of Ros- 
setti's friends have not failed to 
detect a satirical element in the rough sketch of Alma Mater, the un- 
girding of a knight with a sword, which, I understand, refers to the 
manner in which Mr. Woodward, the architect of the New Museum and 
the Union Room at Oxford, had been dealt with by the University 
authorities. 

Much oi 1858 was devoted to the execution of Rossetti's triptych 




Ancilla San Grael. 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 



49 



in Llandaff Cathedral, a powerful if not quite successful work which, 
however, need not detain us here. It represents The Saviour adored by 
a Shepherd and a King ; David as a Shepherd combating Goliath, and 
David as King. In the summer of this year the Hogarth Club, of 
which the brothers Rossetti were important members, was founded. 
Among its principal objects, besides the promotion of friendly inter- 



p™»- 




Lance tot in Guinivere 's Cham be 



course, was the establishment of an exhibition room where pictures by its 
artistic members could be shown in a quasi-private manner, so that they 
would not be excluded from galleries, such as those of the Royal Academy, 
which declined works the public had previously seen. 1 

1 This society, which must not be confused with the existing club of the same 
name, included some of the most eminent and accomplished artists of the day. The 
first meeting was held July 2nd, 1858, at 178, Piccadilly; later, the club removed to 



5° 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSET-TI 



One of the chief figures in the Salutatio Beatrices, which was painted 
in 1859, is represented by this sketch for the figures of Dante meeting 
Beatrice in Eden, half of that diptych of which the other portion illus- 
trated Dante meeting Beatrice in Florence ; it was painted on a door in the 
Red House, which, after designs by Mr. Philip Webb, Mr. Morris 




Alma Mater and Mr. Woodzvard. 



built in an orchard at Upton, Bexley Heath. This ascription is con- 
jectural, because the sketch may refer to the Salutatio Beatricis, now in 
the possession of Mr. J. Leathart, of Gateshead. Mr. Morris has long 
ago parted with the Red House, and the pictures painted there by 



6, Waterloo Place, Pall Mall, where it continued to meet and show pictures by its 
members until April 19th, 1861, when it was dissolved. Several of Rossctti's drawings 
were hung there. 



DJNT'E GABRIEL ROSSETTI 



5 1 



Rossetti ; mention of these suffices to recall the beginning of the latter's 
intimacy with the poet of The Earthly Paradise, which occurred some 
time before the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine was published in 1856, 
and was fortunate in bringing before the world the glorious Burthen of 
Nineveh, the original composition of which dates back to when, by his 
reading it aloud, that fine piece was made known to the author's circle of 
close friends. Sister Helen, a ballad royal if there ever was one, followed 
in about 1855, and was read in the same 
manner, but during the succeeding years, 
until 1880, or thereabouts, this poem con- 
tinued to be improved. Most of Rossetti's 
more important pictures were, so to say, 
set in sonnets some of which are of 
priceless beauty, delightful in their colour, 
energy, movement and freshness. These 
poems, and especially the sonnets, are the 
outcome of a genius essentially pictorial, 
that is to say, a mind which saw every- 
thing — from the rose and ivory of a 
woman's carnations to the sullen splendour 
of a sunset — with the eyes of a painter 
revelling in colour, enraptured by the grace 
of a perfect curve, and capable of exquisite 
and sympathetic research when human 
pathetic expression was in view. In short, 
most of Rossetti's poems are pictures in 
words, in which respect there is a close, 
though partial, resemblance between his 
genius and that of Robert Browning. 

The next cut is of an indefinable date, probably 
extreme taste and felicity, represents a graceful girl standing at a doorway 
and, as a sort of Eve of later days, plucking apples from a tree. 

Lucrezia Borgia, executed in i860, comes next in our illustrations, 
and was thus, upon an unfinished and smaller version of the same, 
described by Rossetti himself : " Lucrezia Borgia, Duchessa di Bisceglia. 
The subject is the poisoning of her second husband, the Duke Alfonso 

D 2 




1859, and with 



5 2 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 



of Bisceglia. You see him in the mirror going on crutches, and 
walked up and down the room by Pope Alexander IV., to settle the 
dose of poison well into his system." Behind those figures, as they 
walk in the room and are seen in the mirror, is the bed where the 
victim is to perish. Lucrezia, standing in front, looks calmly towards 
them, and, smiling to herself, deliberately washes her hands after 

mixing the poisoned wine and 
placing it in the glass vessel 
on the table behind her. The 
Pope and Duke Alfonso are 
supposed to be in front of the 
scene, and much about where 
we, as spectators, stand, so that 
she looks at them, and in her 
eyes there is a lurid intense 
light, which is horribly fine, 
and this illustrates what we 
have said as to the artist's 
intense research where human 
expression was in view. The 
horror of the subject is en- 
hanced by the magnificence of 
the woman's form, its stateli- 
ness and its beauty. In this 
picture there is a great force 
of colour and light and shade, 
forming chiaroscuro of which 
Giorgione might boast ; the 
whole is painted in a higher 
key than Rossetti had, till 
then, generally affected ; it is solid and unusually carefully finished. 
Originally exhibited at the Hogarth Club, the completed version of 
Lucrezia Borgia, after remaining for a time with Mr. Leathart, passed 
into the collection of Mr. Rae, whose kindness allowed its reproduction 
for this text. About the same time, 1859-61, Rossetti began and 
finished the bust of a young woman, whose face, saturated with passion 




Girl Plucking Fruit. 




Lucrezia Borgia. 



54 DJNTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

as it is, baffles description, and justifies its title of Bocca Baciata, or 
Lips that have been Kissed. Like the last it was first exhibited at the 
Hogarth Club, and, as No. 309, at the Academy's Collection of 
Rossetti's Works, 1883. It is in oil, very highly finished, and modelled 
to a pitch far above the custom of modern painters. I have long 
reckoned Bocca Baciata, although a small example, one of the finest, as 
it is one of the subtlest and most difficult, of pictures of our age ; 
it belongs to Mr. Boyce, having, moreover, that peculiar importance 
which attaches to the first remarkable, if not actually the first example 
of the artist's later, and much affected custom of painting single busts 
and half-length figures which, afterwards, came to be of life-size or 
even larger — of women, amorously, mystically, or moodily lost in 
dreams, or absorbed by thoughts too deep for words. In course of time a 
generation arose about Rossetti who knew him only by these startling, 
powerful and thoroughly original examples, and ignored him as a painter 
of genre, and dramatic and biblical themes. 

Bocca Baciata and the Llandaff triptych being finished, or well 
advanced, Rossetti found time in i860 to carry out in ink the original 
drawing (now the property of Mr. Boyce) of a very powerful little 
picture in water colours, which, in the next year, he finished at Chatham 
Place. This fine thing now belongs to Mr. Fairfax Murray, to whom 
the reader is indebted for seeing this version of the most humorous 
instance of Rossetti as a genre painter, and wit. Dr. W. Maxwell, 
a close crony of Johnson, told, among anecdotes of his friend, which 
are included in Boswell's Johnson, that " Two young women from 
Staffordshire [Lichfield acquaintances, no doubt] visited him [Johnson] 
when I was present, to consult him on the subject of Methodism, 
to which they were inclined. ' Come,' said he, ' you pretty fools, 
dine with Maxwell and me at the Mitre, and we will talk over that 
subject ; which they did, and after dinner, he took one of them on 
his knee and fondled her for half an hour together." Rossetti, with 
keen humour, has made one of the "pretty fools" a little piqued at 
the favour of fondling which her companion obtains, while the latter, 
demure, but not unmoved, sits stiffly upon the knee of the doctor, who 
holds forth while he stirs his tea ; Boswell, alive to the conversation, sips 
punch from a spoon, and the waiter, leaning over the curtain of the box, 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 



55 



conscientiously snuffs the candle, and, while dawn breaks in the sky with- 
out, seems to wish his customers would go. Rossetti, in introducing 
Boswell instead of Maxwell, did so by an oversight, or perhaps, because 




Dr. Johnson at the Mitre. 



a likeness of the former was easily obtained and sure to be recognized in 
his picture. 

In 1 86 1, the painter, who for a long time had had the work in hand, 
found himself in a position to publish The Early Italian Poets from C. 



56 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

D'Alcamo to Dante Alighieri, with the Vita Nuova of the latter, which 
is the proper and almost indispensable complement to the Divina Corn- 
media, a sort of autobiography of Dante in his youth and early manhood, 
which, as the catalogue of Rossetti's works attests, supplied him with 
texts for some important pictures, such as the Salutatio Beatricis, Beata 
Beatrix, now in the National Gallery, Dante's Dream, now at Liverpool, 
La Donna della Finestra, several of which we have yet to consider, and 
Dante on the Anniversary of Beatrice 's Death, which has been previously 
described. The Early Italian Poets gave birth, so to say, in 1874, to 
Dante and his Circle, which included and extended the former work, 
and did whatever a book can to extend and elevate English ideas of 
the poetry to which it was devoted. 1 

Rossetti's remaining works of 1861 included designs for stained glass, 
the logical character of which as a means of decoration, none understood 
so well as he. 2 A few replicas, many studies and portraits seem to have 
engaged the energies of our painter, while his wife's frequent illnesses, 
and other grave causes of distress, must have shaken him to the heart, and 
were more than enough to account for the fact that no serious picture 
proceeded from his easel until some time after his wife's death, in 
February, 1862, and her burial in the cemetery at Highgate. On the 
day of her interment he placed in her coffin, by way of sacrifice to her 
gentle spirit, a small volume of poems in manuscript, the greater number 

1 In the meantime, although Messrs. Smith and Elder published the earlier volume, 
the pecuniary results to the brilliant translator and learned annotator were, as his brother 
says, "on a very small scale." A presentation copy of the book was nevertheless priced 
in a bookseller's recent catalogue at .£5 10/., i.e. about sixteen times the original sum. 
The volume announces Dante at Verona, and other Poems. By D. G. Rossetti, as 
"Shortly will be published," a collection which, in that form at least, never appeared. 

2 From the first he mastered the facts that, unlike pictures proper, which are seen 
by reflected light, paintings in glass, being transparent, are seen by transmitted light, 
and do not permit the use of modelling in light and shade, intended to give a false 
appearance of relief to that which ought to be of the nature of a mosaic in transparent 
media, with shadows, not modelled to anything like naturalistic or imitative results. 
Knowledge of this principle lies at the root of design in this application, and yet so 
dense was the ignorance of art then prevailing among antiquaries and cognoscenti, that 
Mr. C. Winston, a great authority as to the history of glass painting, and a first-rate 
copyist of ancient windows, refused to accept this rudimentary canon of the subject, 
and sanctioned those illogical and inartistic transparencies, which, vilely designed and 
childishly executed in the picture-glass works at Munich, offend the eyes of critics in 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSS EFT I 57 

of which had been addressed to her by him, both before and during their 
wedded lives of less than two years' duration. 1 

St. Paul's and Glasgow cathedrals. Greatly to Rossetti's influence, though not perhaps 
to his initiative (about which I am not certain), is due the successful and brilliant 
revival of art in glass, which has flourished chiefly by means of Messrs. F. M. Brown, 
W. Morris, Sir E. Burne-Jones, and a few other competent artists and manufacturers, 
by which the whole art and practice of vitraux have been revolutionized. 

1 As the leading subject of this text is the art of Rossetti as it is manifest in some 
of the more important and characteristic of his paintings, and because it docs not pretend 
to be a complete biography, still less, an account of him as a poet, it will be well to 
anticipate time, and repeat what has been often told, to the effect that while some of 
the poems buried in his wife's grave existed imperfectly in other versions, many, if not 
all of them, were complete in the small volume only. Mr. Hall Caine says that "as 
one by one of his friends, Mr. Morris, Mr. Swinburne, and others attained to distinc- 
tions as poets, he [Rossetti] began to hanker after poetic reputation, and to reflect with 
pain and regret upon the hidden fruits of his best efforts. " After many searchings of the 
heart, as well as promptings and encouragings from friends, the poet determined to 
recover the volume from the grave where they had been placed as if for ever. This 
was done on the night of the 6th or jth of October, 1869, and in due time the desired 
verses were incorporated with other examples, and issued as " Poems, by Dante Gabriel 
Rossetti." The honours of the poet were instantly acknowledged by all who had not 
already acknowledged them, and were worth seeking acknowledgments from. The 
volume which is now scarce, contains — besides most of the sonnets already published in 
the Germ — the "Blessed Damosel," which is illustrated below, the " Burthen of Nineveh," 
"Dante at Verona" (see above), "Jenny," "Sister Helen," fifty supremely beautiful 
sonnets and songs, intended to become a work to be called The House of Life (two of 
these were afterwards withdrawn, although they reappear in the Tauchnitz edition of 
the Poems), and a body of Sonnets for Pictures, etc., which referred to works by the 
poet himself, Ingres, Giorgione, Da Vinci, Mantcgna, and of Sir (then Mr.) E. B. Jones. 

I have often supposed that Rossetti might have found an authority, or example, for 
placing in and afterwards withdrawing his poems from the grave of his wife, in the 
record that when Francis I visited Avignon, that monarch caused the tomb of Laura 
de Sade to be opened, and took from it a small box containing verses which had been 
written by Petrarch's own hand, and were placed there by him ; they were afterwards, 
by order of the King, returned. 



CHAPTER III 

1861 — 1882 

When he recovered from the shock of his wife's death, which was not 
till some months had passed, and he was settled in the large house at 
Cheyne Walk, a new and energetic sphere of life opened before our 
painter, of which almost the first output was Mr. Leathart's triptych in 
water colours of Paolo and Francesca (R.A. 1883, No. 291), a developed 
version of a design which Mr. Ruskin had some years before bought, 
and which is very well represented here by a transcript from one of 
Mr. Rae's treasures (Burlington Club, 1883, No. 13). 

This is altogether a sadder and more sombre work than Mr. Leathart's. 
The first compartment represents with extraordinary power the kissing in 
the garden house ; the second the floating of the condemned pair in the 
dark regions, where in the irresistible air they roll as leaves roll in a 
strong current, still clasping each other, and with folded feet and garments 
all composed ; moving both as one they pass amid the rain of sapphire- 
hearted flames. The third compartment, the motto of which is " O 
lasso ! " the poet's cry of pity, refers to the second division, and exhibits 
Virgil and his guest walking in the gloom, Dante regarding the lovers 
with pitying eyes, and holding his loose garment to his lips. In the first 
division, Paolo has looked up from the pictured page of the book the 
princess and he read together, and, all on fire at heart, seen answering fire 
in Francesca's eyes ; so he clasps both her hands in both of his, and they 
indulge with equal passion in the luxury of love. Abandoning her lips 
to his, she, under levelled eyelids, gazes on his face while it meets hers. 

The Bride, or The Beloved, a noble picture which I regard as Rossetti's 
masterpiece — one only example, to wit Proserpina, to which we shall 
shortly come, being in my opinion fit to be compared with it — dates its 
origin from 1863, 1 and as regards its splendour and colour and the passion 

1 A letter from the painter to Mr. Rae, dated "December 22nd, 1863," mentions 
that his correspondent had previously seen the Beloved in a not quite finished condition. 




<=< 



fe, 



60 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

of its design, need not fear comparisons with the greatest works of the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Venice. In these respects this 
chef d'a'uvre is a superb and ardent illustration of the Song of Solomon, 
" My Beloved is mine, and I am his ; let him kiss me with the kisses of 
his mouth for thy love is better than wine." 

The picture comprises — as if they had halted in a marriage proces- 
sion, towards the spot where the enraptured bridegroom awaits them — five 
life-size adult maidens and a negro girl, who, in the. front of the group, 
and bearing a mass of roses in a golden vase, is adorned with barbaric 
jewellery, all of which harmonizes with her dusky skin, which, although 
it has the true Titianesque ruddy undertint, is of a deep bronze-brown 
surface hue. The negress and her burthen are intended to contrast 
intensely with the costume and face of the bride herself, who is clad 
in an apple-green robe, as lustrous as silk and as splendid as gold and 
embroideries of flowers and leaves in natural colours can make it. This 
garment and its decorations support the colour of the dark maid's skin 
and heighten the value of the pure red and white of the bride's car- 
nations, while the contours ot the African's face and form contrast 
with the Caucasian charm of the bride, her stately countenance, and 
" amorous-lidded eyes." 

The Song is aptly illustrated by the attire of the bride and 
her companions ; it says, " She shall be brought unto the king in 
raiment of needlework ; the virgins that be her fellows shall bear her 

In the February following Rossetti wrote again, and his note is an amusing illustration 
of that business capacity in which, as a bargain-maker, cash-receiver, and negotiator in 
general, he, to the wonder of his artistic and poetry-loving friends, shone greatly. Of 
his powers in these respects, bankers, lawyers, merchants, and everybody whose wisdom 
in cash and commerce was unchallengeable, spoke with unreserved admiration, not to 
say surprise. Mr. Lcyland, who had ample experience as a buyer of Rossctti's works, 
humorously, kindly, and in the terms of Lowell's poem, joked about him as "a darned 
hard hand at a deal." A capital illustration of his ability in the managing of his affairs 
and negotiating the sale of his pictures is before me, in a latter to Mr. Rae, dated February 
24th, 1864, proposing to sell five drawings, including The Blue Closet and Paolo and 
Francesca, which are before the reader, to the great Liverpool banker. Of these, he wrote, 
"the purchaser would have to arrange with me for the completion of the unfinished 
drawings," which were then in Mr. W. Morris's collection. "No opportunity," he 
urged, "is ever likely to occur again of obtaining drawings of mine at such a price, 
since they are all good specimens of my work." Than these statements nothing could 
be truer. 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 61 

company, and shall be brought unto thee." On either side ot the bride 
appear two damsels, not yet brides. The principal figures are differently 
clad, diverse in face and form, and to some extent contrasted in character 
and expression. Besides her robe the bride wears about her head and 
throat a veil of tissue differing in its green from that of the robe, and 
above her forehead rises an aigrette of scarlet enamel and gold, that 
resembles in some respects the peculiar headdress of ancient Egyptian 
royalty ; this is set like a coronet upon her hair. While advancing 
towards the bridegroom, with an action at once graceful and natural, 
she, half thoughtfully, half in pride of supreme loveliness, has moved 
the tissue from her face and throat. With the same movement she has 
thrown backwards a large ringlet of her hair, revealing the softened 
dignity of her loveladen eyes, as well as her face, which is exquisitely 
fair and fine, and has the least hint of blushes within the skin, as though 
the heart of the lady quickened, while we see there is tenderness in her 
look, but voluptuous ardour nowhere. 

All the four maids seem to have been chanting a nuptial strain, while 
they have moved rhythmically with the steps of the bride. 

Excepting one or two later works of the master, where sentiment of a 
more exalted sort, as in Proserpina, inspired the designs, The Beloved 
appears to me to be the finest production of his genius. Of his skill, 
in the high artistic sense, implying the vanquishment of prodigious 
difficulties — difficulties the greater because of his imperfect technical 
education — there cannot be two opinions as to the pre-eminence of 
Mr. Rae's magnificent possession. It indicates the consummation of 
Rossetti's powers in the highest order of modern art, and is in perfect 
harmony with that poetic inspiration which is found in every one of his 
more ambitious pictures. This example can only be called Venetian, 
because of the splendid colouring which obtains in it. Tintoret produced 
works which assort most fortunately with this one, and his finely dramatic 
mode of designing reappears, so to say, in The Beloved, where the 
intensity of Venetian art is exalted, if that term be allowed, in a modern 
strain, while its form, coloration, and chiaroscuro are most subtly devised 
to produce a whole which is thoroughly harmonized and entirely self- 
sustained. Of how few modern instances could this be said ? The 
colouring of this picture supports the sentiment of the design in the 



62 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

happiest manner, and in its magnificence the work agrees with the 
chastity of the conception. There is a nuptial inspiration throughout 
it, even in the deep red of the blush roses the negress bears. The 
technique is so fine that it leaves nothing to be desired, even in the 
lustrousness of the gold vase, in the varied brilliancy of the robe of the 
bride, in the subtle delicacy of the carnations, solidly and elaborately 
modelled as they are and varied to suit the nature of each of the figures. 
Rossetti's Beloved is in English art what Spenser's gorgeous and 
passionate Epithalamium is in English verse, and, if not more rapturous, 
it is more compact of sumptuous elements. 

We must hasten past several capital examples, besides minor pictures 
and studies which occupied the easels of Rossetti at this epoch, and 
devote attention to Beata Beatrix, that poetic version of his lost wife, 
which is her best if not her only monument, and one of the finest 
examples in the National Gallery. Dream-like, and of a dream, he 
painted this wonderful picture, which, if the Bride is an epithalamium, 
must surely be called a nuptial dirge. In some respects it is, as I have 
said in The Portfolio of 1891, even more distinctly than that superb 
achievement, The Beloved, a full and true reflection of the artist's 
idiosyncrasy of the higher order. The mysticism and mystery of Beata 
Beatrix are due to that which was, so to say, the innermost Rossetti, or 
Rossetti of Rossetti. The Beatrix of Dante's imagination, sits in a 
balcony of her father's palace in Florence. The picture places us in 
the chamber from which the balcony opens, and the damsel's form is 
half lost against the outer light, half merged in the inner shadows of the 
place. She is herself a vision while — her corporeal eyes losing power 
of outward speculation — the heavenly visions of the New Life are 
revealed to the eyes of her spirit. The open window gives a view of the 
Arno, its bridge, and the towers and palaces of that city in which Dante 
and Beatrix spent their lives till the fatal month of June, 1290, when she 
died, and, as the poet tells us, " the whole city came to be, as it were, 
widowed and despoiled of all dignity," or as the frame in the National 
Gallery has it, being Dante's own verse, uttered when her death was 
announced to him, and borrowed from Jeremiah, " Quomodo sedet 
sola civitas." In the picture the form of Beatrix is opposed to the 
dun evening light of the outer world, and so placed that the light 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSS ELY I 



63 



shines through the outer threads of her dark, auburn hair, and thus 
produces the effect of a saint-like halo, while the face itself, is to our 



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sight, merged in the dimness caused by our looking at the splendour of 
the river. Accordingly, the figure appears partly outlined against the 



64 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

lustre, partly lost in the half-gloom of the chamber. It is thus visible in 
what may be called a twilight of brilliance and a twilight of shadow, and 
the abstruseness of the design is manifest. Her form is merged, not 
lost, in that shadowy space which, in Butler's happy phrase, is "of 
brightness made." Thus Rossetti happily showed that his subject was 
a mystery, not without life of this world, nor all unreal. 

As to the picture itself and its spectators, it is obvious that we 
remain on the mundane side of things, while Beatrix in a swoon passes 
into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and. the Florence that Rossetti 
painted is the Heavenly City of the Future. Her features look pale in 
the half gloom, and her hands, which erst clasped each other in her lap, 
have fallen apart to lie supine because their task is almost done, and 
this is celestial light that glances on them. A dove, of deep rose- 
coloured plumage, and, like the bird of the Annunciation, crowned 
with an aureole, poises on downward wings at her knees, and bears to 
Beatrix's hand a white poppy — i.e., the mystical flower in which 
Rossetti meant to combine the emblems of death and chastity. Her 
face is in most respects a likeness of the painter's wife, but it is obvious 
that, although it was not intended for a portrait of the lady, it may 
well be called a spiritual translation, inspiring features which had but 
a general resemblance to those of Beatrix which he depicted with so 
much pathos. In the background the poet Dante attentively regards the 
figure of Love, the ideal Eros of his vision, who, holding a flaming heart, 
passes on the other side of the picture heavenwards, and seems to sign to 
him that he should follow in that path. This vermilion-clad genius is, 
of course, the Eidolon, Spiritual Beatrix, or celestial Love, whose earthly 
image was the Beatrix the poet made immortal in immortal verse. 1 

We have now to pass to Mr. Rae's Sibylla Palmifera, the noble seated 
figure of a virgin, quiet and pale, as if long absorbed in the contemplation 
of the mysteries of life and thought, and holding a palm before a shrine, 

1 This picture was begun in 1863, finished in 1865, bought in 1866 by the Hon. 
W. Cowper Temple, created Lord Mount Temple. After his death his widow, who 
exhibited it at the Academy in 1883, partly to carry out his wish, partly in honour 
of the artist, gave it to the National Gallery. There are two, not so fine, versions 
of it in oil, besides a repetition, if" not two, in water colours, a drawing in crayons, and 
various studies for parts of this work. The Portfolio, 1891, contained an etching from 
this picture. 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 65 

while at her side burns a lamp whose steadfast flame rises towards a 
garland of roses which hangs near the sculptured head of a cherub ; on 
the other side is a thurible from which smoke ascends slowly in circles, 
towards a Death's-head, over which is suspended a wreath of poppies. 
Above the sibyl's head hangs a festoon of olive boughs and, carved in 
a niche, is a sphinx, with other emblems of mysteries. Two butter- 
flies, one of gold, the other of a carnation tint, whose significance may be 
easily imagined, hover near the sibyl's shoulder. The coloration of 
this fine work, of which Rossetti thought very highly, is as apt and 
powerful as that of The Beloved, but, of course, of a very different 
kind ; it expresses pathos of quite another sort, and, so to say, is such 
as Milton would desire for 

"Him that yon soars on golden wing, 
Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne, 
The Cherub Contemplation." 

As was his wont in several cases, our painter wrote a fine sonnet 
illustrating this picture and its theme, and published it in Poems, 1871. 
As these lines are reprinted as " Soul's Beauty " in Ballads and Sonnets, 
the reader will be pleased to find it here. Like the picture, the sonnet 
has its antithesis in " Body's Beauty," or " Lilith," which is described 
below. 

SIBYLLA PALMIFERA. 

" Under the arch of lite, where love and death, 

Terror and mystery, guard her shrine, I saw 

Beauty enthroned ; and though her gaze struck awe, 
I drew it in as simply as my breath. 
Hers are the eyes which over and beneath, 

The sky and sea bend on thee, — which can draw, 

By sea or sky or woman, to one law, 
The allotted bondman of her palm and wreath." 

" This is that Lady Beautv, in whose praise 

Thy voice and hand shake still, — long known to thee 
By flying hair and fluttering hem, — the beat 
Following her daily of thy heart and feet, 
How passionately and irretrievably, 
In what fond flight, how many ways and days ! " 



66 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

On / enus Verticordia, for leave to reproduce the water-colour 
version of which we are indebted to Mr. Rae, Rossetti wrote a passionate 
sonnet which, as it contrasts intensely with the above example, and 
because it describes the picture in splendid words, may be welcome 
here from the edition of 1870, which is repeated from the text on the 
frame of Mr. Rae's picture : 

VENUS 

" She hath the apple in her hand for thee, 

Yet almost in her heart would hold it back ; 
She muses, with her eyes upon the track 

Of that which in thy spirit they can see. 

Haply, ' Behold, he is at peace,' saith she ; 
'Alas ! the apple for his lips, — the dart 
That follows its brief sweetness to his heart, — 

The wandering of his feet perpetually ! ' 

"A little space her glance is still and coy ; 

But if she gives the fruit that works her spell, 
Those eyes shall flame as for her Phrygian boy. 

Then shall her bird's-strained throat the woe foretell, 
And her far seas moan as a single shell, 
And her grove glow with love-lit fires of Troy." 

She stands before a maze of honeysuckle flowers and foliage, to obtain 
which Rossetti wrote to Mr. Rae that he " lost a whole week, and pounds 
on pounds," and it is backed by a dense mass of roses of rich varieties 
and depths of tone ; it is as if — all fresh and blushing in the daylight — 
she, nearly naked, stood in a wilderness of flowers ; her face is that of 
a woman, young, tender and ardent, but not without the wistfulness 
of pity which is indicated by the verses. 

We are now studying the very highest examples of Rossetti's 
genius during its second, or third, and most sumptuous manifesta- 
tion. Of the productions of the period embracing 1864 to 1872, few 
surpass and few approach L ilith, of which a transcript from a photo- 

1 There are two versions of this subject, more or less resembling the example before 
us, and painted in oil ; that which (dated 1868) Mr. W. Graham lent, as No. 305, to the 
Academy in 1883, was originally the largest and finest of all. It was much injured by 
repaints, and sold in 1885 for .£588. 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTJ 



67 



graph, taken before certain alterations which few consider improvements, 
is now before the reader. Rossetti got a hint of the subject from that 




With. 



delightful repertory of whim, wit and learning, the Anatomy of Melan- 
choly, by R. Burton, who wrote " The Thalmudists say that Adam had 
a wife called Lillis, before he married Eve, and of her he begat nothing 

E 2 



68 DJNTE GABRIEL ROSS Em 

but devils." On this hint, and, perhaps from a few lines in Shelley's 
translation of Faust, the painter-poet set about to educe in solid form 
his notions of the fair and evil-hearted witch, who, as a sort of Lamia, 
had been originally formed like a serpent. He took her as a type of 
the " Body's Beauty," and endeavoured, by the forces of contrast and 
antithesis, to make more distinct the nobler, because chaster, charms of 
Sibylla Palmifera. As with regard to the latter, so with Lilith he 
illustrated his meaning in the following sonnet. 

BODY'S BEAUTY. 

" Of Adam's first wife, Lilith, it is told 

(The witch he loved before the gift of Eve), 

That, ere the snake's, her sweet tongue could deceive, 

And her enchanted hair was the first gold. 

And still she sits, young while the earth is old, 
And, subtly by herself contemplative, 
Draws men to watch the bright net she can weave, 

Till heart and body and life are in its hold. 

" The rose and poppy are her flowers ; for where 
Is he not found, O Lilith, whom shed scent 

And soft-shed kisses and soft-shed sleep shall snare ? 
Lo ! as that youth's eyes burned at thine, so went 
Thy spell through him, and left his straight neck bent 

And round his heart one strangling golden hair." 1 

As Rossetti painted Lilith she appears in the ardent languor of 
triumphant luxury and beauty, seated as if she lived now, and reclining 
back in a modern robe, if that term be taken rightly ; the abundance 
of her pale golden hair falls about her Venus-like throat, bust and 

1 The sonnet written on the frame of that version of this picture which belonged to 
the late Mr. F. Lcyland (Burlington Club, 1883, No. 47), is not quite the same as this. 
The original version belongs to Mr. Bancroft, Junior, of Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A. 
The charming actress, whose stage name was Miss Herbert, and who sat more than 
once to Rossetti, was, I believe, the model for this face and form. The reader will 
find some curious matter about Lilith and similar fair witches in Notes and Queries, Sixth 
Series, vols. viii. and ix., under "Curiosities of Superstition in Italy," and written by 
Mr. R. H. Busk. A reduced version of the work before us is in water-colours, with 
the face altered, and is, or was, in the collection of Mr. Alexander Stevenson, of 
Tyncmouth (B. Club, 1883, No. 55). 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 69 

shoulders, and with voluptuous self-applause — an element of the design 
rendered with ineffable imagination and skill- — she contemplates her 
features in the mirror her left hand holds, while with the other hand, 
using a comb, she draws apart the long filaments of her hair. The 
haughty luxuriousness of the beautiful witch's face, the tale of a cold 
soul amid all its charms, does not belie, such was the art of the master 
in painting it, the fires of a voluptuous physique. She has passion 
without love, and languor without satiety — energy without heart, and 
beauty without tenderness or sympathy for others — for her lovers least 
of all. She holds the mirror with negligent grace, and, self-absorbed, 
trains her bewitching locks, letting them tall as her slow fingers move 
in their long masses. Thus occupied, she is reckless how much or how 
little of her bosom and shoulders is displayed in a delicious harmony of 
colour with the warm white of her dress, heedless of the grace of her 
attitude, and the superb abundance of her form. A larger mirror stands 
behind the lolling figure, and reflects a garden ; beyond the lady a 
mass of roses bloom. These blossoms of strong and varied hues, the 
warmer ivory of her carnations, with inner rosy tints paler than the 
flowers, and the diverse whites of Lilith's garments, including an ample 
mantle lined with fur, are charming elements of a fine coloration. The 
expression of the witch's face is, in the water-colour version, at once 
more amorous and more cruel than that of the picture in oil, and I 
am at one with Mr. W. Rossetti in preferring the former face, which 
retains the painter's original intention, to the latter, which is due to 
revision at a latter period, although the oil version itself is still dated 
1864 ; the reduced instance in water colours being dated 1867. Such 
are the delays incident to painting great pictures. 1 

Passing Mr. Craven's Washing Hands, a lady by that action signifi- 
cantly dismissing a lover (B. Club, 1883, No. 54) ; Mr. Rae's vigorous 



1 Here is part of a letter from the artist to Mr. Rae, setting forth causes of repeated 
delays in finishing the picture now in question : — "Feb. I, 1 866. . . I hope to have made 
some progress with Palmifera by the time the Beloved reaches you, but cannot expect 
very much. So don't be surprised, if you come soon, to see no great advance. It maybe 
otherwise, however — there is no knowing in such a lottery as painting where all things 
have a chance against one — weather, stomach, temper, model, paint, patience, self-esteem, 
self-abhorrence, and the Devil into the bargain." 



70 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

tragedy called A Fight for a Woman, two knights in a duel ; The Blue 
Bower (not the same as Mr. Rae's Blue Closet, but a half-length figure 
of the sitter for Bocca B aetata and Lilith), which belongs to Mr. Craven ; 
the charmingly fresh and pure // Ramos cello, the bust of a young girl, 
of which, prefixed to Mr. Colvin's accomplished essay on Rossetti, there 
is a good woodcut in the Magazine of Art, 1883 ; Regina Cordium, a 
head in oil of the beautiful Miss Wilding ; we come to Mr. Rae's 
superb Monna Vanna, or The Lady with the Fan, which has something 
that is evanescent and fickle in her expression, a self-centred character 
revealed by every feature, lovely as these are. The ends of a long 
coral necklace are about her wrists, and she is drawing the carcanet 
slowly round her neck ; a heart-shaped jewel of clear white crystal is 
suspended on her breast, a hard, cold, colourless gem that is significant 
of her soul and its impulses : she holds a fan of brown feathers, like 
those of a pheasant's wing, and wears a robe of white tissue, the folds 
of which are at once beautiful and unstable, embroidered with gold 
in lines that scintillate here and there. Her lips that have been often 
kissed are cherry-coloured, ripe and full, yet not warmed by inner 
passion, nor exalted by rapture of contemplation, as those of Sibylla 
Palmifera, still less are they chaste and untasted like those of the 
maiden of // Ramoscello. Painted in 1866, and repainted in 1873, 
this picture was No. 302 in the Academy, 1883. It is sometimes 
called Belcolore, but is quite different from a work of 1863 which 
is so named, and shows a girl biting a rosebud. A choice work in 
oil called A Christmas Carol, a young girl singing with gladness to a 
lute, dates from 1867, and belongs to Mr. Rae. It has been well etched 
by M. Gaujean. In this year we reckon Tristram and Iseult drinking 
the Love-Potion, the latest of Rossetti's illustrations of the Arthurian 
legends, as a very telling representation of a fine and pregnant subject. 
It belongs, or lately did so, to Mr. Leathart, and in some respects may be 
ranked with The Loving Cup, an inferior version of which was recently in 
the Leyland Collection ; Mr. Graham's of a later date is better. 

No production of 1868 by Rossetti charms the student more than 
the noble Aurea Catena (now the property of Lord Battersea), sometimes 
called The Lady with the Chain, a sort of portrait of Mrs. W. Morris, 
which from a drawing in crayons forms the subject of our next illustra- 




The Lady with the Gold Chain. 



72 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

tion, and is the first of a very numerous category of pictures, cartoons, 
and studies from that lady. 

The design of this beautiful work explains itself, and needs no more 
to be said than correcting the error which has named it as La Pia, a title 
due to an oil picture of 1868, illustrating the fifth canto of the Purgatorio 
of Dante, which belonged to Mr. Leyland and, if space permitted, should 
have ample attention in this text. 1 

1 There is only a general resemblance between the designs of Aurea Catena and 
La Pia. The unhappy lady who bore the latter name, Pia de' Tollomei, was wife of 
Nello della Pietra of Siena, who, until she died there, was confined by her husband in 
a fortress of the fever-haunted Maremma. In Rossetti's picture she is dressed in blue 
and white drapery, seated behind the rampart of her prison, with heart-breaking languor 
and despair looking over the plain and moodily trifling with her fatal wedding ring. 
La Pia was No. 319 at the Academy, 1883, and at Mr. Leyland's sale, May, 1892, sold 
to Mr. Bibby for 300 guineas, a comparatively small price for a Rossetti in good con- 
dition, and measuring 42 x 48 inches. It was not finished till 1881, and is therefore 
one of the master's latest productions. Together with the Day Dream, La Pia is 
described at length in the Athenaeum, 1881, No. 2783. Dante met the unquiet spirit 
of Pia dc' Tollomei in Purgatory, among those whose opportunity of repentance was only 
at the last moment, and who died without absolution. From the Purgatorio the artist 
thus translated her appeal to the Italian poet — 

"'Ah ! when on earth thy voice again is heard, 
And thou from the long road hast rested thee,' 

(After the second spirit said the third), 
' Remember me who am La Pia ; me 

Siena, me Maremma, made, unmade, 

This in his inmost heart well knoweth he 

With whose fair jewel I was ringed and wed.' " 

Such a theme as these lines indicate is very different from that of the picture before 
us, although the works make it obvious that the same lady sat for both. Before me lies 
an autograph version of the translation as above, which in the fifth line differs from 
that engraved upon the frame of the painting, being — 

" From Siena sprung, and by Maremma dead." 

The alteration shows Rossetti's extreme care in translating and adapting texts to his 
pictures, and was effected between my visit to him, when the work was available, and 
the engraving of the lines on the frame. As previous pages have shown it was Rossetti's 
frequent custom to write illustrative verses on the frames of his pictures such as this, 
The Day Dream, Monna Vanna, Proserpine, and the like. The practice was a survival 
of what he had done when writing the sonnets published in the Germ, and it was con- 
tinued to his last days. Not all these verses are included in the published volume of 
the artist's poems. Aurea Catena was Lot 38 in the Rossetti sale catalogue at Christie's, 
May 12, 1883. 



DJNTE GABRIEL ROSS Em 73 

In its preparation, if not in its completion, following Aurea Catena, we 
find our subject dealing with Rosa triplex, a water-colour drawing for 
Mr. W. Graham, and representing three beautiful female heads, delineated 
alike in different views of Miss Alice Wilding, one of the loveliest models 
who sat to Rossetti not only for this noteworthy group, but for the heads 
of the ladies in Sibylla Palmifera, Veronica Veronese, The Roman Widow 
(otherwise Dis Man i bus} La Ghirlandata, "The Sea Spell, and various 
drawings and studies of choice qualities. She began to sit to him, I think, 
about 1864, and continued to do so till about ten years later, and, in 
regard to her form and air, he never adopted a more exquisite type of 
womanhood, per se. As a type she succeeded Miss Ruth Herbert, as that 
lady named herself in public, and in the later portion of her decade, 
was to some extent superseded by Mrs. Morris, who sat to the painter 
so often and to such marked effect that idle critics, ignorant of the 
facts, were accustomed to censure Rossetti for always, as they said, 
depicting the same type of womanhood. As to this, the truth has 
been set forth by the artist's brother, who enumerated not fewer than 
fourteen different models whom our common subject had excelled with, to 
say nothing of those who sat for inconsiderable heads or were not literally 
represented in pictures and studies of all sorts. There are not fewer than 
five versions of Rosa triplex, of the first and best of which, dated 1867, 
the Portfolio in 1892 gave a fine reproduction from the red chalk 
drawing in the National Gallery, a bequest of Mr. J. J. Lowndes, who 
died in 1891. Here is part of what the Portfolio published concerning 
the versions of Rosa triplex, the history of which illustrates so many of 
the characteristics of Rossetti and his art, that I should be sorry to 
omit it from these pages. 

" In all these cases the artist worked, so to say, simply as a 
devotee of Beauty in one manifestation of that divine element, but with 
no distinct intention to develop the spiritual essence of his ideal by 
imparting to the luxurious and refined physical aspect of the person in 
question those mystical impressions which pervade Sibylla Palmifera, the 
romantic inspiration of Veronica Veronese, the spirituality which, to the 
heart of it, is Italian of the sixteenth century, or La Ghirlandata 1 s 
dreamy amorousness, the spell of which she is weaving with the notes of 
the harp whose strings her fingers slowly and daintily caress. The 



74 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

rapture of her deep blue eyes attests the secret of the throbbing music 
which loses itself amid the foliage of her bower; so intense is the 
inspiration of the picture. Nor in depicting Rosa triplex, was Rossetti 
seeking to express 

" 'In Venus' eyes the gaze of Proserpine,' 

which was the poetic motive of his Pandora, instinct with mysterious 
trouble." 

So many differently inspired versions did Rossetti give us of the 
beauty of Alice Wilding. Nevertheless, I dare say, not a little of her 
charm existed mostly in the passionate heart of the painter ; yet I well 
remember that nothing he drew of her, diverse as the delineations were, 
seemed less than an exact likeness. Of course, one saw her through 
the mood of the artist and it has sometimes appeared to me that 
the ardent poem he called The Portrait referred, however generally, yet 
chiefly, to her, when he described how, when " my lady's picture " was 
finished he exclaimed 

" Lo ! it is done. Above the long, lithe throat 
The mouth's mould testifies of voice and kiss, 
The shadowed eyes remember and foresee. 
Her face is made her shrine. Let all men note 
That in all years (O Love, thy gift is this !) 

They that would look on her must come to me." 

Did ever lover, poet and painter write of his mistress more finely than 
thus ? In Sibylla Palmifera the model of Rosa triplex is presented in 
an impressive light, and the artist himself appears therein characteristically 
as the devotee of that intellectual beauty which Shelley named 

" The awful shadow of some unseen power." 

Rossetti's sonnet on the sibyl I have already quoted. 

La Bionda del Balcone (the blonde Lady of the Balcony) followed Rosa 
triplex in the same year, 1868, and was succeeded by The Princess Sabra 
drawing the fatal Lot, both in water colours, and La Pia was finished for 
Mr. Leyland. Then, in 1869, came La Donna della Finestra (The Lady 
at the Window) otherwise The Lady of Pity, and supposed to be that dame 
who, according to the Vita Nuova, looked with profound compassion upon 
Dante when he passed by her house weeping because of the death of 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 75 

Beatrice. He feared the people would notice his sorrow, and looking 
up, saw a young and beautiful lady pitifully regarding him from her 
window. The first version of this subject Rossetti made in crayons and 
sold to Mr. W. Graham, it was afterwards reproduced in photography 
and published; next, in 1879, came, if I understand the painter's 
brother rightly, a version in oil which Mr. F. S. Ellis bought, and 
thirdly, in 1881, a somewhat different version of the same design, which 
the artist left unfinished, and comprising the head and hands only. 
A study in chalks of The Lady of Pity was Lot 23, at Rossetti's 
sale. Lot 10 1 in the same sale was a picture in oil, including the 
head and hands only, and this, doubtless, is the original of the 
cut before us. This, although the sale catalogue gives its date as 
c. 1878 (the date of Lot 23, being c. 1875), ^> following a rule 
adopted in this text, place here, according to Mr. W. Rossetti's date 
of the primary type of the whole category, i.e., Mr. Graham's 
version of La Donna del la Fines tra. Mr. F. S. Ellis's version was 
No. 321 in the Academy, 1883, and dated 1879. 1 

The earliest rendering of Pandora, which is in crayons, dates from 
1869 and belonged to Mr. T. Eustace Smith, who lent it to the Burlington 
Club in 1883. Mr. John Graham had a version in oil (R.A. 1883, 
No. 320), dated 1871. It represents a half-length figure, with long, 
dark auburn hair, in red drapery, and holding a casket inscribed 
" Nesitur ignescitur," and from which a red flame issues. Rossetti 
wrote a sonnet for this picture, which, as it illustrates its poetical and 
pathetic motives, and is not reprinted in Ballads and Sonnets may be 
quoted here : — 

PANDORA. 

"What of the end, Pandora ? Was it thine 
The deed that set these fiery pinions free ? 
Ah ! wherefore did the Olympian consistory 
In its own likeness make thee half divine ? 



1 If the reader is of a generous, not to say a merciful, disposition, he will in these 
and other instances forgive possible errors in dating examples mentioned in this text. 
The confusion of the titles, dates and descriptions of Rossetti's works remains great, 
although the painter's brother has done much to lay straight the threads of a tangled 
skein ot records. 




Our Lady of Pity. 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 77 

Was it that Juno's brow might stand a sign 

For ever ? and the mien of Pallas be 

A deadly thing? and that all men might see 
In Venus' eyes the gaze of Proserpine r 

" What of the end ? These beat their wings at will 
The ill-born things, the good things turned to ill — - 

Powers of the impassioned hours prohibited. 
Ave, hug the casket now ! Whither they go 
Thou mayst not dare to think, nor canst thou know 

If Hope still pent there be alive or dead." 

Neither the picture nor the sonnet is a first-rate work of Rossetti's, 
though they both illustrate his power of projecting himself into a 
subject which, in itself, seemed to have been made on purpose for 
him. 

The next important picture by our poet-painter is that which many 

consider to be his chef-d\vuvre, to wit, the famous Dante s Dream, now 

in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, where it was placed by public 

subscription. Mr. W. Rossetti has told at length the history of this 

very fine and impressive work, which, begun in 1869, continued 

to be a sort of heroic white elephant, remaining chiefly in the painter's 

studio till 1 88 1. I do not intend to enter into this subject now — 

the picture having been again and again before the public — or to describe 

at length the grand and monumental design itself. Suffice it that, 

when at the Academy in 1883, it was thus, in the painter's own 

memoranda, explained : " The scene is a chamber of dreams, strewn 

with poppies, where Beatrice is seen lying on a couch, as if just fallen 

back in death ; the winged figure of Love, in red drapery (the pilgrim 

Love of the Vita Nuova, wearing the scallop shell on his shoulder) leads 

by the hand Dante, who walks conscious but absorbed, as in sleep ; in 

his other hand Love carries his arrow pointed at the dreamer's heart, and 

with it a branch of apple-blossom ; as he reaches the bier, Love bends 

for a moment over Beatrice with the kiss which her lover has never 

given her ; while the two green-clad dream-ladies hold the pall full of 

May-blossom suspended for an instant before it covers her face for ever." 

There are many minor incidents which need not detain us. Probably it 

was of the chalk drawing reproduced on page 63 which Mr. Rae bought 

of his friend in 187 2. that Rossetti wrote "it was done right off at once." 



78 DANTE GABRIEL R0SSETT1 

It seems to be an elaborated study for the head of one of the " dream- 
ladies " and pall-bearers, who is on our right in this large picture. Its 
beauty speaks for itself. It is a more or less exact likeness of Miss 
Spartali, now Mrs. W. J. Stillman, and a distinguished lady-artist who 
sat otherwise to our painter, especially for the Fiammetta of 1870. 

So long ago as 1855 our artist had been attracted by the subject 
of Dante s Dream, when he made a water-colour drawing to illustrate 
it, which Miss Heaton lent to the Burlington Club, 1883. Mr. V. 
Lushington wrote in the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, August, 
1866, an enthusiastic essay upon the design, which, in 1857, was 
included in the Russell Place Exhibition. A double predella was added 
to the largest of Rossetti's works, and it was the subject of countless 
discussions, experiments, and alterations, as well as of a world of studies 
and negotiations, including more than one change of owner. At last, 
in 1 88 1, it was sold to Liverpool for _£ 1,050, which was far below its 
artistic value, and less than Rossetti had received for much less ambitious 
examples of his art. 

From the magnificent drawing in crayons Mr. Constantine A. Ionides 
lent, as No. 80, at the Burlington Club's exhibition of 1883, inscribed 
with the artist's monogram, and dated 1870, the reproduction of A Lady 
with a Fan, now before us, was taken. Like the model who sat for 
this, as well as for Monna Vanna and many other fine things of the same 
category, its noblest function is to " live and be beautiful." Accord- 
ingly, it explains itself, and has no history that can be set forth here, 
except so far as relates to Rossetti's honour as, when he was pleased to do 
justice to himself, a perfect draughtsman. This exquisite example attests 
that no one could draw a head with more skill, art, and taste than he ; 
while, except the hands, which are a little too large, the whole work is 
faultless. The year 1870 did not witness the completion of any important 
painting, a shortcoming for which the glorious Proserpine, that had its 
inception in a drawing of Mrs. Morris, dated 1871, made ample amends. 
Although the oil picture of this theme, which Mr. W. A. Turner lent 
to the Manchester Exhibition in 1882, and as No. 86 to the Burlington 
Club in 1883, is dated 1877, I consider it under the earlier date. It 
represents at life-size, a single figure of Proserpine in Hades, holding in 
her hand the pomegranate, by partaking of which she precluded her 




Lady with a Fa 



80 DJNTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

return to earth. 1 She is passing along a gloomy corridor in her palace, 
and, on the wall behind her, a sharply defined space of light has fallen. 
It is the cool, bluish, silvery light of the moon, that because of some 
open door far overhead has penetrated the subterranean dimness, flashing 
down for a moment on the wall, revealing the ivy-tendrils that lan- 
guish in the shade, displaying the queen, her features, the abundant 
masses of her hair, which seem to have become darker than was ever 
known on the earth above, and the sorrowfulness of her face. It shows 
also the slowly curling smoke of an incense-burner (the attribute of 
a goddess) which, in the still air of the gallery, circles upwards, and 
spreading, vanishes. Proserpine is clad in a steel-blue robe, that fits 
loosely her somewhat slender, slightly wasted, but noble frame of 
antique mould. It seems that she moves slowly with moody eyes 
instinct with slowly burning anger ; yet she is outwardly still, if not 
serene, and very sad in all her stateliness; too grand for complaint. In 
these eyes is the deep light of a great spirit, and, without seeing or heed- 
ing, they look beyond the gloom before her. Her fully-formed lips, 
purplish now, but ruddy formerly, and once moulded by passion, are 
compressed, the symbols of a strenuous soul yearning for freedom, and, 
with all their pride, suffering, rather than enjoying goddess-ship. The 
even-tinted cheeks are rather flat ; the face, so wide is the brow, is 
almost triangular, the nose like that of a grand antique. These 
features are set in masses of bronze-black and crimped hair, darkly 
lustrous as it is, that encompasses the head, and flows like an abundant 
mantle over her shoulders and bust. The wonder of the picture is in the 
face. The light cast on the wall throws the head in strong relief; 
she turns slowly towards the distant gleam ; the ivy branch curves 
downwards, and assists, with the swaying lines of the drapery, the 
composition of the whole. 2 

1 In countless early Italian pictures the bitten pomegranate is a well understood 
emblem of sorrow and pain. Hence it often occurs in the hand of the Infant Christ, 
who, in several examples, presses the fruit to the lips of His mother. On this account, 
no doubt, Rossetti placed the pomegranate in the hand of Proserpine. 

2 See the Athenaum, 1875, No. 2494. Rossetti wrote to Mr. Rae — "Oct 12th, 
1877. The present one \_Proserpine~\ belonging to myself was begun before Leyland's 
[of 1873], and thus had the immense advantage of the first inspiration from nature. It 
is unquestionably the finer of the two, and is the very flower of my work. . . . You 




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^7/ '*tt*,l$oCtsX'kS^ 



GP 

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DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 81 

Rossetti wrote a sonnet in Italian, and an English version of the same, 
both of which are inscribed on the frame of the picture in question. The 
latter is as follows : 

PROSERPINA. 

"Afar away the light that brings cold cheer 

Unto this wall, — one instant and no more 

Admitted at my distant palace door. 
Afar the flowers of Enna from this drear 
Dire fruit, which, tasted once, must thrall me here. 

Afar those skies from this Tartarean gray 

That chills me : and afar, how far away, 
The nights that shall be from the days that were. 

"Afar from mine own self I seem, and wing 

Strange ways in thought, and listen for a sign : 
And still some heart unto some soul doth pine, 

(Whose sounds mine inner sense is fain to bring, 

Continually together murmuring,) — 

'Woe's me for thee, unhappy Proserpine ! ' 

These are indeed profound sighs, worthy of a goddess of the antique 
mould, and even sadder than the picture to which they refer. As to 
their subject, every friend of the painter knew that he was prouder of 
having invented it than of his share in devising, or rather applying to 
art any other theme in which he excelled. Reckoning The Bride as his 
technical chef-cT ceuvre, I place Proserpine next to it, not because it is as 
well or better painted than half-a-dozen of his capital pieces, severally, 
but on account of the complete originality of its theme. On the other 
hand it should be remembered that, while he produced at least four or 
five versions of Proserpine, he never ventured on a second Bride. 

The disastrous use of chloral, which was ultimately to insure his ruin, 
while it certainly did not act alone in promoting that catastrophe, had 
not, in 1 87 1, although he became addicted to it more than two years 

may perhaps have seen an article in the Athenaeum relating to some pictures of mine 
completed at that time, and among which this is the first mentioned. The size is the 
same as Leyland's, the price 1,000 guineas." Mr. Leyland's version was sold in May, 
1892, for 540 guineas ; it was No. 314 at the Academy, 1883. Mr. Turner's version 
is that which Mr. W. Rossetti distinguishes as No. 3 of the rather numerous category 
of Proserpina ; it now belongs to Mr. C. Butler, and is that which the painter himself 
thought highest of. It is the original of the plate before us for which we are indebted 
to Mr. Fairfax Murray. 

F 



82 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

before, made deep inroads upon our poet's energies, nor reduced his power 

in art. But it is noteworthy that, sometime before 1868, when chloral 

came to his hands, nearly all the subjects of his pen and brush were more 

or less desponding ; of those none is sadder than Proserpine. At this time 

the chivalric and romantic subjects he had affected so late as the Tristram 

and Iseult of 1867, disappeared from his repertory, and gave place to the 

woe of Ceres' daughter, the mournful despair of La Pia, the sad pity of 

the Donna del/a Finestra, the ominous agony of Pandora, the sorrowing of 

Dante in the Dream, and the vague melancholy of Veronica Veronese, 

whose music is a dirge. Rossetti was not the man to " be sad o' nights 

out of mere wantonness," and therefore we must seek a cause for his 

selecting themes so gloomy and so woebegone as these, and may perhaps 

find it in the insidious effects of the drug which precipitated, though it 

did not cause his downfall, and — long before he had reached the allotted 

goal of man's existence — left desolate that noble " House of Life," 

whose inner treasures his poetry and painting set forth with 

" Such a pencil, such a pen." 

Besides the works described above, the years 1871, 1872, and 1873 
were chiefly devoted by Rossetti to the production of minor portraits and 
new versions of already completed masterpieces, such as the repetitions of 
Beata Beatrix, Hesterna Rosa, Rosa triplex, and Proserpine. Two note- 
worthy exceptions are Veronica Veronese, which he painted for Mr. 
Leyland, and La Ghirlandata, which Mr. W. Graham bought. The 
former belongs to 1872, and, when it was No. 295 at the Academy in 
1883, was thus described by the Athenaeum in a criticism which I 
cannot now improve. " Veronica Veronese is the life-size figure in profile 
to our right, her head turned in a dreamy mood towards us, while with 
levelled eyelids and parted lips, she listens to the notes produced by her 
fingers on the strings of a violin hanging above the table where she has 
been writing music. The sharp notes are repeated, and inspired by the 
shrill song of a canary in a cage suspended behind the lady's seat, and to 
which she is endeavouring to give pathetic expression in the ordered 
music of her instrument. Rossetti appears here again to be giving 
expression in art to those associations of sound, colour, and sense 
which are hardly less obviously embodied in many pictures we have pre- 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 83 

viously mentioned. The type chosen for the face is the most sculpturesque 
of all those he affected, and this picture is the most perfect illustration 
of it. Chromatically speaking, the work is almost classic in its style. 
The sumptuous, deep-toned greens of her sleeves accord with the grayer 
greens of the hangings behind the lady's figure ; the tawny gold of 
her hair encloses clear-cut features of Miss Wilding's type, the carna- 
tions of which, although not wan, are but little tinged with the 
rose, and suggest a life of studious retirement and majestic leisure. 
The brightness of the music sheet repeats the tonality of the flesh 
tints, the jonquils on the table are adapted to the colour of the bird 
In the like manner the tone and colour schemes of the whole example 
were constructed in harmonies, and on what may be called musical 
principles. The general aspect of the picture is that of a Paolo Veronese 
with the addition of searching execution, or an elaborately-finished Sebas- 
tiano which time had not lowered in lighting, tone or tint. This 
instance of La Veronica justifies the motto from ' G. Ridolfi,' ' C'etait le 
mariage des voix de la nature et de I'dme, T aube d'une creation mystique.' 
It is one of the last of Rossetti's works of which music suggests the 
theme." Such is the masterpiece, in the firm and sculpturesque touch of 
which, as well as in its logical treatment and poetic inspiration, we 
recognize no sign of decaying powers or weakened will ; such is 
the example the artist called " the fiddle-picture," which at Mr. 
Leyland's sale fetched a thousand guineas. 

Mr. Graham's La Ghirlandata (R. A., 1883, No. 298) may fairly 
take its place with D/s Manibus, The Bride, and Lilith, without being 
compared with any of them. It shows the green-clad Lady of the 
Garlands sitting among the golden foliage of a thorn tree and myrtle 
copse ; her hands are drawing music from a harp beside her seat, and her 
face proved her soul to be absorbed in the sound she produces. On 
either side, over her shoulders, an angel looks from between the glowing 
upper leaves of the copse, as if Heaven itself waited upon her song. 
Round the summit of the harp is slung a garland of roses and honey- 
suckles, the sweetest of earthly flowers, and the sky above, where the 
day of earth is dying, hints in its calm, ardent depths of a sweetness 
still beyond. The evening breeze has just risen and begins to lift the 
light drapery above her shoulders. In colour, this picture is chiefly a 

f 2 



8 4 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

study of green, interspersed with blue of various shades — the deep blue 
aconite which appears at the base of the composition, the bright bird that 
flits through the trees, the wing pattern painted on the instrument, and the 
colour fading from the sky. These hues are balanced by the golden 
bronze of the lady's hair and the dusky-coloured harp, an instrument 
which is solid, with strings on each side. 1 

It appears that it was late in 1873 the first idea was suggested 
to Rossetti of illustrating with a picture his own poem The Blessed 
Damozel, which had originally appeared in the second number of the 
Germ, February, 1850. With this date therefore — although the first of 
several versions, that bought by Mr. W. Graham, was not available till 
the following year, while Mr. Leyland's picture had not the final touches 
till 1879 — our illustrations of this stupendous work, are placed here. 
The picture more particularly illustrates a portion of the poem which 
appeared in the Tauchnitz edition of Rossetti's works, 1873, and is less 
known to English readers than either of the other versions. The legend, 
if such it can be called, which is entirely of the poet-painter's invention, 
tells us that the " Damozel," dying in the fulness of youth, and before 
her lover, waited for his coming in Heaven, while her earthly com- 
panions, maids and men, were united in perfect bliss. Time passed, and 
still the lover came not, but she continuously waited : — 



" It was the rampart of God's house 
That she was standing on ; 

By God built over the sheer depth 
The which is Space begun ; 

So high, that looking downward thence 
She scarce could see the sun. 



1 See the Atherieeum, No. 2494, for the above, and further notes on Rossetti's pictures. 
Mr. W. Rossetti, the painter's brother, wrote that the flowers prominent in this work 
are, he thought, larkspurs, though the painter meant to depict monkshood, which is 
poisonous, and thus intended to suggest this in "Beauty which must die." This in- 
tention was not apparent to me in La Ghirla?idata. My friend adds that, although the 
artist gave us so many pictures in which the pathetic as well as the poetic qualities 
of music are illustrated with the rarest subtlety, as of music that "overtakes far 
thought," he knew nothing of that art as such, and hardly cared to listen to its graver 
exercises. 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 



"Beneath, the tides of day and night 
With flame and darkness ridge 
The void, as low as where this earth 
Spins like a fretful midge. 

"Around her, lovers, newly met 
'Mid deathless love's acclaims, 
Spoke evermore among themselves 

Their rapturous new names ; 

And the souls mounting up to God 

Went by her like thin flames. 

"And still she bowed herself and stooped 
Out of the circling charm ; 
Until her bosom must have made 

The bar she leaned on warm, 
And the lilies lay as if asleep 
Along her bended arm. 

" From the fixed place of Heaven she saw 

Time like a pulse shake fierce 
Through all the worlds. Her gaze still strove 

Within the gulf to pierce 
Its path ; and now she spoke as when 

The stars sang in their spheres. 

"The sun was gone now ; the curled moon 

Was like a little feather 
Fluttering far down the gulf ; and now 

She spoke through the still weather. 
Her voice was like the voice the stars 

Had when they sang together. 



" ' I wish that he were come to me, 

For he will come,' she said. 
' Have I not prayed in Heaven ? — on earth, 

Lord, Lord, has he not pray'd ? 
Are not two prayers a perfect strength ? 

And shall I fed afraid ? ' " 

Thus yearning, the Damozel prefigures to herself the meeting she 
craves. 

" 'We two,' she said, ' will seek the groves 
Where the lady Mary is, 



86 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

With her five handmaidens, whose names 

Are five sweet symphonies, 
Cecily, Gertrude, Magdalen, 

Margaret and Rosalys. 

" Circlewise sit they, with bound locks 
And foreheads garlanded ; 
Into the fine white cloth like flame 

Weaving the golden thread, 
To fashion the birth-robes for them 
Who are just born, being dead.' " 

The Blessed Damozel of this picture is of life-size, or a little larger, 
and, from amid a mass of blooming celestial roses, leans forward on one 
arm against and over the golden wall or parapet of Heaven, which is en- 
riched with strange sculptures, and gleams in the mystical light of the 
place. Her loose and ample robe, of a pale cerulean blue, covers he 
shoulders, and, above this is a scarf of bronze tint, intermixed with sil- 
very hues. The great heavenly lilies of sainthood lie in the hollow of 
her other arm. Her head is bent forward, and her pure pale face is 
marked with a love-yearning look in the never-weary, yet wistful eyes, 
and on her half-open lips sits immovably patient expectation ; her hair 
is of a deep golden tint, there are purple stars about it, and it seems to 
flow from under these upon her shoulders and her back in an abundant 
mass richly lighted. The exaltation of the soul which is expressed by 
the poem has been made concrete in the features, verifying the charm of 
the verses : 

" The wonder was not yet quite gone 
From that still look of hers ; 
Albeit, to them she left, her day 
Had counted as ten years." 

The still dignity of her attitude is a masterpiece of graceful design, 
and the lines of the figure are amply supported by the subsidiary elements 
yet to be described, for the minor incidents of the work confirm the 
suggestions of the poem. 

Behind the Damozel are the large mazes of the heavenly garden, 
where, under the branches of an enormous tree, numerous re-united lovers, 
clad in deep blue, are joyfully embracing, and are seen in changing lights 
and shadows. In front of the golden parapet, and bearing green palms 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETYI 



>1 



with which to welcome the lover for whose coming they, like the Damozel 
wait, are two ministering spirits, both beautiful, but with different expres- 
sions on their faces, the one more pitiful and sad than the other, for the 




Saneta Lilias, which was founded on The Blessed Damozel. 



latter is younger, and his look is less sorrowful, Their intensely blue 
wings, instinct with latent fires, arch grandly over their heads, as if ready 
to be expanded in flight, and launch the palm-bearers forth on the 



88 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

celestial road by which all anticipate the lovers coming. Between these 
two ministers, and immediately below the shining parapet, appears a 
seraph, an infant's head surrounded by multiform and manifold wings 
like those of the tetramorph, and of a deep and vivid green ; the face 
of this presence has a watchful and sad expression ; it is the countenance 
of a fate presaging sorrow and loss even in its steadfast regard and 
fixed lines. 1 

The Blessed Damozel is represented here by a reproduction of Rossetti's 
original design in chalk of a group of " lovers newly met," who appear 
in the background of Mr. Graham's version of the picture, not in that 
which Mr. Leyland had. A predella obtains with both examples, although 
they differ in various details. Several studies of this kind were dispersed 
at the Rossetti sale, 1883. The same picture is likewise represented by 
the cut of Sancta Lilias, a work which was the property of the late 
Lord Mount-Temple, and executed in 1874 as the date upon it states. 
It is a variation, in part, of the bust, hands and head, of the chief 
figure in the great picture, adapted to suit a differing expression and 
manner, and named according to the lilies in the maiden's hand. The 
robe and the background are golden. It was No. 87 at the Burlington 
Club Exhibition, 1883, where No. 84 was a similar study, belonging 
to Mr. W. Graham, in red chalk, and holding a palm. A study in red 
chalk of Sancta Lilias was Lot 35 at the Rossetti sale, and dated in the 
catalogue as of 1879. 

Four works distinguished Rossetti's out put in art during the year 
1875. They are, besides "versions" and portraits as before, Venus 
Astarte, The Sphinx, or The Quest/on, Dis Manibus, and La Bella 
Mano. The first of these, sometimes called Astarte Syriaca, a mystic- 
ally inspired version of Mrs. W. Morris's lineaments, was illustrated 
by an admirable plate in the Portfolio of 1892, the immediate original of 
which was a chalk drawing, and an historical essay by the present writer. 
The second example is represented here by a reduction of a pencil 
drawing, the only one which Rossetti made to carry out an idea of what 
his biographer calls (in this I cannot agree with him) " one of my 
brother's most important inventions ; he wished," says that loyal critic, 
" to carry it out as a picture, but found no feasible opportunity for doing 
1 Sec the Athenaum, 1877, No. 2581. 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSE'TTI 



89 



so. On his death-bed he composed two sonnets, as yet unpublished, to 
illustrate the same idea. In this design the Sphinx represents the mystery 
of existence, or the destiny of man, unfathomable by himself. Three 
personages — a youth, a man of mature age, and an old man — are shown 
as coming to the secret haunt of the Sphinx, to consult her as to the 



,A"~ 







Two Figures Embracing, from The Biased Damozel. 

arcana of Fate. The man is putting his question ; the graybeard toils 
upward towards the spot ; the youth, exhausted by his journey, sinks and 
dies, unable so much as to give words to the object of his quest. With 
upward and inscrutable eyes the Sphinx remains impenetrably silent." 1 



1 The fraternal biographer continues, "It may be worthy of mention that, in repre- 
senting the dying stripling, Rossetti was thinking of the premature fate of Oliver Madox 



90 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

La bella Mano belongs to Mr. F. S. Ellis, who lent it to the Academy 
in 1883, No. 35. Here, the Lady with the Fine Hands, is washing them 
at a cistern and basin of brass, while two white-robed and red-winged 
Loves are in attendance, one holding the towel in readiness, the other 
having on a silver tray the adornments for her " bella mano." A mirror 
behind her head reflects the room and bed ; these elements are deep in 
tone ; a fire is burning in the chimney nook. The pictorial object of 
the work is to show the brilliancy of flesh tints, or carnations and whites 
relieved on a ground subdued to the eye, and yet everywhere replete with 
varied colour and material. In these respects the work is a marvel of 
art, the whole glowing in rich light, and being intensely deep in tone, and 
wealthy in colour. The sentiment of the design, as in most of Rossetti's 
pictures, lies in the face, and is discoverable in the light of a woman's 
hope, which fills the eyes, and has given a warmer rose tint to the full 
and slightly parted lips, that are red in their vitality. The face is slightly 
raised, and put sideways towards us, the figure standing in profile, so that 
the masses of deep golden hair which project from her brow, cast 
shadows on her upper features. 

D/s Manibus, or The Roman Widow, I describe from notes made in 
Rossetti's studio in 1875, and published in the Athenaeum of that year, 
soon after it was finished. The title here suggests the subject, that of a 
Roman widow seated in the funeral vault of her family, beside her 
husband's cinerary urn, the inscription on which is headed by the in- 
variable words " Dis Manibus." She, as in some classical examples, 
is playing on two harps an elegy "To the Divine Manes" of the 
departed. She is robed in white, the mourning of noble ladies in Rome. 
The antique forms of the harps are rendered in tortoiseshell chiefly, with 



Brown, a youth of singular promise, both as painter and as writer, who ended his 
brief life of less than twenty years in the November of 1874 — a bitter grief to his father, 
Rossetti's life-long friend, Ford Madox Brown. This design Rossetti characteristically 
wrote of as being meant to be a sort of painted Cloud Confines (the name will be recog- 
nized as that of one of his poems). "I don't know," he added, " whether it would 
do to paint, being moonlight." The Sphinx seems to me an intractable subject, 
and to be overloaded with trite allegory that is unworthy of the inventor of so many 
subtleties, while the design, as such, is inferior and confused, and therefore, apart from 
the moonlight which would have to be dealt with, I am convinced that it would not 
" do to paint." 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETYI 



9i 



fillings of ebony or dark horn embossed in silver. She is seated right 
fronting us, and leans a little sideways to our left. On this side one or 





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The Sphinx. 



the harps is reared on the arm of the bench, its horns are twined with 
pale wild roses, and beneath the urn is trained a festoon of garden roses. 
About the urn is bound the widow's wedding girdle cf silver, dedicated 



92 DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 

to the dead or to the living husband. The second harp is on the bench 
on her left ; her lean pale fingers seem to stray " preluding " a mournful 
strain upon the strings of the instruments, and her very eyes seem 
to listen ; her lips we might expect would part and emit a faint funereal 
hymn. The moment chosen must be supposed to belong to one of those 
special occasions when the Romans solemnized mortuary rites, and 
which recurred at intervals during the year. The key colour of this 
picture is warm white, with a saffron hue ; this obtained in the dress of 
the lady, and is varied by the less warm colour of the veil which swathes 
her head and throat, as well as by the intense pallor of the carnations. 
She has turned back the veil from her face so that we see the warm young 
features are sunken, a little pale, but still beautiful. 

The Sea Spell, painted from Miss Wilding, and intended as a sort of 
companion to Veronica Veronese, for which she likewise sat, shows the 
Siren seated playing her lute, which is shadowed by the apple-tree and 
crowned with a rose-wreath. She is bending before the instrument 
which is upright before her ; over her head is a white bird, attracted 
by the music and rushing through the air to listen to it. Behind are 
glimpses of the sunlit ocean and a blue firmament, vividly lighted. The 
witch is with abstracted eyes listening to her own music, and the vague 
charm of her ruddy lips seems to attest that she, urged by Fate, wove the 
enchantment that brought mariners to ruin, while she swings her body to 
the chanted cadence. Rossetti's sonnet illustrating this picture * begins 

"Her lute hangs shadowed on the apple tree 

While flashing fingers weave the sweet-strung spell 
Between its chords." 

The portrait of Miss Christina Rossetti, which is the last of our 
illustrations, belongs to the one brother, to whom we are indebted for it 
as well as for the plate after Lilith, and was drawn by the other brother 
of the lady whose choice verses have been, like so many pearls in a 
carcanet, strung in various editions of her poems. It will therefore be 
trebly welcome to the reader. It was drawn with coloured crayons, and 
in, to the best of my belief, 1877 ; in 1883 it appeared as No. 43 at 

1 The Sea- Spell, which belonged to Mr. Leyland, and was sold with the rest of his 
pictures in May, 1892, for 420 guineas, was dated 1877, and exhibited at the Burlington 
Club in 1883. 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 



93 



the Burlington Club's exhibition of Rossetti's pictures, drawings, and 
studies. It attests that Time had not effaced from the lady's face the 
likeness of the Virgin in "Ecce Ancilla Domini ! " of 1849, and it remains 







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&p[^/*ryFV**''^y™™ \\; -, > 



Christina Rossetti. 



the best portrait of our poet-painter's devoted and constant sister, his 
refuge in dark and painful days which she shared with his mother and 
brother, and one of the attendants of his latest hours. 



94 



DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 



Those hours witnessed the removal from amongst us of one of the 
most splendid geniuses of which the English nation can boast. They 
arrived all too soon after the portrait of his sister was completed, 
that is in about four years, during which period Rossetti finished some 
less important works, replicas and new versions of several which have 
been mentioned in this text, and began certain examples which he did not 
live to complete. He had the great satisfaction of knowing that his fame 
as a poet was prodigiously extended by means of Ballads and Sonnets, 
published in September, 1881, while the sale in the same month of his 
Dante s Dream to the Liverpool Gallery affirmed that his honours as a 
painter would lose nothing in the future. It would have increased his 
happiness could he have known that in a few years two of the most 
characteristic of his pictures would be added to the National Gallery. 
He died at Birchington, Kent, on the 9th of April, 1882. To his 
memory this text is one of the tributes of an old friend. 




Beatrice and her Nurse. 



INDEX 



Academy, Royal, 9 
Alficri, Count, 6 
" Alma Mater," 48 
"Astarte Syriaca," 88 

" Beata Beatrix," 62 

"Beloved, The," 58, 60 

" Bionda del Balcone, La," 74 

Birchington, 94 

" Blessed Damozel," 84 

" Blue Bovver," 70 

"Blue Closet," 41 

" Bocca Bacfata," 53 

"Borgia," 31 

Boyce, Mr., 3 1 

Browning, Robert, 26, 51 

Bruges, 28 

Burnc-Jones, Sir E., 16, 47 

Cary, Mr., 9 

" Chapel before the Lists," 48 
Charlotte Street, 7, 8 
Cheyne Walk, 58 
"Christmas Carol," 70 
Cimabue, 32 

Cleveland Street, 13, 16, 23 
Cockercll, Pcpys, 32 
Collinson, James, 17 
Colvin, Sidney, 70 
Combe, Mrs., 34 
Cyclographic Societv, 16 

" Damsel of the Sangrael," 43 
" Dante's Dream," 77 

" Dante on the Anniversary of Beatrice' 
Death," 34 



"Death of Breuse sans Pitie," 48 
Delia Guardia, 6 
Dcvcrell, Walter, 35, 36 
" Dis Manibus," 90 

" Eccc Ancilla Domini," 19, 21 

" Faust," 42 

Ferdinand L, 6 

" Fight for a Woman," 70 

" Found," 37 

Fra Angelico, 22 

"Galahad in the Chapel," 48 

Gaujean, M., 24 

"Genevieve," 9, 15, 16 

Germ, The, 23, 25, 28, 31 

"Giotto Painting a Portrait of Dante," 

3 2 
Glass, Designs for Stained, 56 
" Ghirlandata," 73, 83 
Graham, William, 24 

Herbert, Miss, 68, 73 
" Hesterna Rosa," 30 
Heugh, Mr., 24 
Hogarth Club, 49 
Holbein, 22, 23 

"How they Met themselves," 32 
Hughes, Arthur, 29, 42 
Hunt, Holman, II, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 24, 
37 

" II Ramoscello," 70 
"Johnson at the Mitre," 53 



96 



INDEX 



King's College, London, 7 
King's College School, 8 
Kirkup, Mr., 32 

"La Bella Mano," 90 

" Laboratory, The," 26 

"Lady of Pity," 74 

" Lady with the Fan," 78 

" Lady with the Chain," 70 

"Lancelot asleep before the Shrine of the 

San Grael," 46 
" Lancelot escaping from the Chamber of 

Guinevere," 48 
" Lancelot and Guinevere at the Tomb of 

Arthur," 40 
Leathart, Mr. 38 
"Lilith," 66 

LlandafF Cathedral, the triptych at, 49 
Louvre, The, 28 
" Loving Cup," 70 
" Lucrezia Borgia," 51 
Lyell, Charles, 8 

McCracken, Mr. 24, 34 

Madox-Brown, 11, 12, 14, 19, 24, 28 

Malta, 6 

"Mary, the Girlhood of the Virgin," 15, 

16, 18 
Millais, Sir John, 9, 12, 14, 21, 28 
" Monna Vanna," 70 
Morris, William, 25, 41, 42, 43, 50, 78 

Mrs. 88 
Murray, Fairfax, 26 

Naples, 6 

Newman Street, 31 
Nineveh, Burden of, 51 

" Pandora," 74, 75, 

" Paolo and Francesca, 39, 58 

"Parable of Love," 31 

" Passover in the Holy Family," 39 

Patmore, Coventry, 16, 31 

Paul, Rev. 8 

Pierce, Miss, 6 



Polidori, Gaetano, 6, 9 

Dr. 6 
Pnx-Raphaelite Brotherhood, 9, 12, 16, 17 
" Princess Sabra drawing the Fatal Lot," 

74 
" Proserpine," 78, 81 

Rac, George, 41, 42 
" Regina Cordium," 36, 70 
Rctzsch, 9 
" Rosa Triplex," 73 

Rossetti, Christina Georgina, 6, 19, 22, 92 
Mrs. D. G. 56 

„ Frances Mary Lavinia, 6, J, 19 

,, Gabnelc, 6, 7, 8 

„ Maria Francesca, 6 

„ William Michael, 6, 17, 25 
Ruskin, John, ^9 

" Sancta Lilias," 88 

" Salutatio Beatricis," 50 

" Sea Spell," 92 

" Sibylla Palmifera," 64, 65 

Siddall, Elizabeth Eleanor, 35, 36, 47 

Sister Helen, 5 1 

" Sphinx," 89 

Stolberg, Louisa of, Countess of Albany, 6 

Stuart, Charles Edward, 6 

Taylor, Sir Henry, 30 
Tennyson, Lord, 40 
Tintoret, 61 
Tristram and Iscult, 70 

Union at Oxford, 45 

Vasto d'Ammone, 6 

" Venus Verticordia," 66 

"Veronica Veronese," 82 

"Washing Hands," 69 

" Wedding of St. George," 42 

Wilding, Miss Alice, 70, 73, 74, 92 

Woodward, Mr. 48 

Woolner, Thomas, 17, 31, 




■„. 



J n (ill ( re lui re. 






FREDERICK WALKER 



AND HIS WORKS 



By 



CLAUDE PHILLIPS 

Author of " Sir Joshua Reynolds" &c. 




LONDON 
SEELEY AND CO. LIMITED, ESSEX STREET, STRAND 

NEW YORK, MACMILLAN AND CO. 
1894 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



PLATES 

PAGE 

In an Orchard (J. P. H.) Frontispiece 

Philip in Church (H. T.) to face z% 

The Vagrants „ „ 4S 

The Harbour of Refuge „ „ 58 

ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT 

Pencil Drawing made for the "Cornhill Magazine" (J. P. H.) 13 

At the Sick Man's Door (Reproduced by permission of Messrs. Smith, Elder and Co.) 16 

Denis Duval's Valet (Reproduced by permission of Messrs. Smith, Elder and Co.) . 18 

Little Denis Dances and Sings before the Navy Gentlemen (Reproduced by 

permission of Messrs. Smith, Elder and Co.) 20 

The Wayfarers (J. P. H.) 22 

Spring (Reproduced by permission of Messrs. Agncw and Sons, owners of the 

Copyright) 29 

Autumn (Reproduced by permission of Messrs. Agnew and Sons, owners of the 

Copyright) 31 

The Three Fates (G. S.) 34 

The Woman In White. Design for a Poster (J. P. H.) 36 

Invitation Card (A. J. L.) 37 

Invitation Card (A. J. L.) 39 

Design for an Invitation Card (A. J. L.) 41 



4 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

The Mushroom Gatherers (S. B.) 42 

The Street, Cookham 43 

The First Swallow (Reproduced by permission of Messrs. Agnew and Sons, owners 

of the Copyright) 45 

Mushrooms and Fungi (H. R.) 47 

The Fishmonger 60 

A Rainy Day, at Cookham 63 

The Unknown Land. First Design (J. P. H.) 65 

The Unknown Land. Second Design (H. R. R.) , 67 

Portrait of the Artist (J. P. H.) 68 

Boy looking at a Dead Bird 72 

Onion in Flower (J. P. H.) 75 



The publishers' thanks are due to the following gentlemen, who have kindly given 
permission to reproduce pictures and drawings in their collections : — 

Mr. J. P. Hescltine (J. P. H.) 
Mr. H. Tate (H. T.) 
Mr. George Smith (G. S.) 
Mr. Arthur J. Lewis (A. J. L.) 
Mr. Somerset Beaumont (S. B.) 
Mr. Humphrey Roberts (H. R.) 
Mr. H. R. Robertson (H. R. R.) 



FREDERICK WALKER 



CHAPTER I 

Influence on English Art — Early Tears — As a Wood-engraver — Connection with the 
" Cornhill " — Works in Black and White — Illustrations for Thackeray' 's "Philip" — 
First Oil Painting — -Visit to Paris— Influence of French Art. 

It is now some nineteen years since the career of this lamented 
artist was all too prematurely brought to a close. He vanished out of 
life at a moment when glory had already been achieved, and achieved 
by a road less barred by obstacle than that which artists of genius are 
as a rule compelled to follow, but yet at a point when he was far from 
having reached maturity or given the best that it was in him to give. 
The sentiment of poignant regret so universally felt at his death was 
made up on the one hand of infinite pity for the path-breaking 
painter who had won and grasped the crown of victory only to see 
it fall from his darkening eyes — -on the other of bitter disappointment 
that the English school should, at a perilous moment, be deprived of 
one who might have accomplished for it so much more than in his short 
life he was able to do. 

The disappearance of Walker was not only the disappearance of 
a man of mark, whose pathetic and distinctively English art had 
already won the hearts of the outside public not less than the 
sympathy of that more restricted one which judges the painter's art 
primarily from its own standpoint and only secondarily from that 
of imaginative literature. It was the extinction of a budding school, 
or at any rate of a movement of promise in English art, 



6 FREDERICK WALKER 

which, whatever might be its shortcomings, had that special 
quality, the value of which cannot well be overrated, that it 
remained in its innovations national in feeling and character. The 
electric spark giving life and the power of development to the germ 
might have come — it probably did come — from abroad, yet the art 
thus generated was never deliberately imitative, but on the contrary 
evolved itself in accordance with the natural temperament and according 
to the natural resources of the artist. Three years before Walker died, 
George Mason, a more complete artist, so far as technical achievement 
goes, though perhaps not a more convincing artistic personality than 
our painter, had passed away ; a few months afterwards vanished George 
Pinwell, the survivor of the short-lived group, and Walker's junior 
by more than two years. 

Walker's influence on his younger contemporaries was undoubtedly 
very great, and its traces still survive, especially among our water-colour 
painters. Still that influence, instead of growing in the years that have 
elapsed since his death, has by degrees waned ; what might have 
developed into a school has remained an isolated movement, throwing 
out ramifications here and there, but yet not more than a movement. 
This is the more to be regretted, because the English art of to-day, 
interesting as are its most recent manifestations in every direction — 
undoubtedly as it is now showing itself to be alive, as it is asserting its 
right to a place in what may be called the modern European school, 
radiating from France — is taking its aids to development too much from 
without, too little from within. It is to the relative immaturity of 
Walker's art, to its lack of true vitality in its later and more ambitious 
phases, that is perhaps to be attributed the restricted character of its 
influence. 

All the more do we regret that possibilities so great as those 
foreshadowed in the art of our painter and his fellows were not realised 
to the full, when we remember how a generation earlier, another and a 
far more important movement, that of the band of poetic realists 
calling themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, failed to bring to 
ripeness such fruit as it might have been expected to bear. Here not death 
so much as disintegration was the cause. The intense passion, the 
concentrated subjectivity of Rossetti, saved in early days from excess 



FREDERICK WALKER 7 

by its human quality, by the touch of the higher realism which informed 
it, in the end overpowered and obliterated the truth, upon a solid contact 
with which all enduring art must be based. The splendid achievements 
of the youthful Millais, absorbing and giving back with infinitely greater 
technical skill some of the brightest rays of his companions' genius, were 
continued, but in another form. The technique broadened, and the Pre- 
Raphaelite passed the barriers which separated imaginative immaturity 
from more mature but also more prosaic achievement. Mr. Holman 
Hunt was faithful, as he has ever since remained, to his early ideals, and 
naively sincere, with a naivete and simplicity hardly paralleled in his 
century ; but the very defects of his qualities prevented his pathetic and 
curious art from progressing to a higher than the initial stage, or exercis- 
ing any widespread influence outside the fringe of Pre-Raphaelitism. 
When Walker's light first modestly showed itself above the horizon, 
the movement was already approaching the end of its earlier, its more 
vigorous and less literary stage. He cannot be said to have been 
closely in touch with it, save in so far as he was evidently moved 
by a sincerity, by a desire to stand alone, which may well have caused 
to vibrate certain kindred chords in his own nature. Almost from the 
first he sought to do as the fiery young innovators of that small 
earnest band had done in the beginning — to shake himself free from 
the accumulated conventionalities of the worst kind by which the 
majority of English artists were still well-nigh stifled. His supreme 
merit was that, while remaining open to impulse from without, when 
that impulse ran parallel with his own endeavour, he chose — perhaps 
his artistic temperament left him no choice — to see, feel, and interpret 
humanity and the environing nature for himself, and not merely to 
tread the narrow path, worn hard and bare by his predecessors and 
contemporaries. 

The cheap anecdotic phase of romanticism had, notwithstanding 
the earnest efforts of the Pre-Raphaelites in the direction of a higher and 
simpler truth, maintained a firm hold on English art. Walker's 
tendency from the beginning, whether he was wholly conscious of it or 
not, was to replace this romanticism by a realism tempered with that 
peculiar vein of imaginativeness without which it can never be acceptable 
in the long run to the Englishman. It was the opportuneness of his 



8 FREDERICK WALKER 

appearance, the opportuneness of his attempt, the fact that the art of the 
innovator, however tentative and uncertain it might be in many re- 
spects, was a thing of home growth and national in colour, that made 
his success, and caused it to be more immediate and less chequered 
with the shadow of failure than is usual with artists of Walker's 
stamp. 

The peculiarly sympathetic character, the absolute sincerity of all 
his work, even when it was most open to technical criticism, had early 
in his too short career won over not only the art-loving section of the 
public, but the greater number and the better part of his brothers in art. 
When following, alas ! too closely, on still growing success, and the 
achievement of coveted distinction, came abruptly the final catastrophe, 
the bitterness of regret gave an additional impulse to that success, the 
seal to which was set by the posthumous exhibition of the painter's 
collected works in 1876 some few months after his death. This was 
for Walker a veritable apotheosis, and it brought his reputation to a 
level at which it has maintained itself ever since, if we may judge not 
only by the market-prices of his works — for these manifestly furnish 
but an unsafe criterion — but by the place which has, with but few 
dissident voices, been accorded to him among the brightest lights of 
English art. 

In the last years of his life, and in those which followed 
immediately upon his death much sympathetic and appreciative 
criticism was devoted to the analysis of his life-work, to the exposition 
of his tendencies in art, to the tracing of points of contact and points of 
difference between his productions and those of contemporary foreign 
masters who might fairly be deemed to have influenced him. It 
would have been too ungrateful a task at such a moment to show the 
shortcomings and weaknesses of a method which was avowedly not yet 
mature when he was snatched away, or to point out in what it might 
appear, to one judging dispassionately, to be an art rather of promise 
than of performance. It is now, perhaps, after a lapse of nearly two 
decades easier to make such an attempt, although it is difficult at this 
stage to do what no one appears to have done at the time — that is to 
indicate with any attempt at realistic truth the human as well as the 
artistic personality of our painter. It thus becomes necessary, in any 



FREDERICK WALKER 9 

attempted appreciation to rely almost wholly on what remains of the 
artist, and but little on the scanty data which have been made public 
with reference to the man. 1 

Frederick Walker was born in Marylebone, on the 26th of May, 
1840, his father being a designer of artistic jewellery, with a taste also 
for painting, which descended, it would appear, from our artist's 
grandfather, who was responsible for some creditable family portraits. 
His mother recognized early his more than common talent for drawing, 
and while he was yet going through a course of general education at 
the North London Collegiate School, Camden Town, took some of his 
drawings to Mr. Arthur J. Lewis, of Moray Lodge, Campden Hill, in 
the employment of whose firms he then was. This gentleman, himself a 
practised artist, at once perceived the promise of the youthful 
draughtsman, and recommended that he should be allowed to follow 
his bent and make of art the business of his life. He had already 
begun to draw in the halls of the British Museum when, at the age 
of sixteen he was, by way of trial placed for eighteen months with an 
architect and surveyor. Very naturally the mechanical training which 
he there had to undergo, and the routine tasks to which perforce he 
had to apply himself were little to his taste. So soon as he was 
released from his experimental apprenticeship, he returned with added 
enthusiasm to his more congenial artistic training, working in the 
daytime at the Museum among the Elgin Marbles, and at night 
attending Leigh's life classes in Newman Street. These Elgin Marbles, 
of which later on he had casts placed in his studio, so that they were 
always in his sight, left, as will be seen, an indelible impression on 
his art, and more especially on its later phases. In March, 1858, 
he was admitted as a student at the Royal Academy, but he never 
progressed from the antique to the life school there. 

Mr. J. L. Roget, in his concise and interesting notice of the painter, 
contained in the work to which reference has already been made, states that 
his studies from the life were made not from the model, but from what 
he saw around him in the outer world, of which, in its everyday mani- 
festations, he was, as might easily be inferred from his early performances, 
keenly and sympathetically observant. A large number of fancy designs, 

1 J. L. Roget's History of the Old Water Colour Society, Vol. II., pp. 386 — 396. 



io FREDERICK WALKER 

made without any living model — memory coming to the aid of imagina- 
tion — were done at a sketching club which met at Langham Chambers. 
These are described as " mostly done in grey with a brush, over unobtru- 
sive but exquisite lines in pencil." While still a student at the Royal 
Academy, Walker entered upon a three years engagement with T. W. 
Whymper, the wood-engraver, to attend his studio three days a week, and 
draw on the block under his instruction. It was this branch of his artistic 
training which was earliest to bear fruit, and to enable him to make a 
practical start in his career ; and here his own unaided studies and observation 
of his fellow-man were to stand him in good stead. The study of classical 
sculpture which was at the root of his training was not to bear obvious 
fruit until later on. 

Mr. J. Comyns Carr, who has made an especial study of the art of 
Walker, in one of his numerous essays x on what has evidently been with 
him a favourite subject, describes this period of the young aspirant's life 
as one of unceasing and irksome labour. He was required for obvious 
reasons to do his work rapidly and in accordance with a method prescribed 
by the taste of his master's customers — that is, in the conventional book- 
illustration style which obtained before that of Millais and Walker him- 
self got the upper hand, before the rise of Once a IVeek and the Cornhill 
Magazine. No doubt such labour was distasteful to young Walker, as it 
must be distasteful to any artist of creative impulses. On the other hand, 
it must have contributed to give him certainty and precision of hand, 
though it did not correct that deep-rooted tendency of the artist to hesitate, 
to evolve, to elaborate, which had its great drawbacks as well as its 
advantages. Originality of vision, distinctiveness of style are not qualities 
which the young and imperfectly developed artist can possess at the outset, 
whatever may be his possibilities ; and it is more than probable that this 
rough-and-ready training after all did the artist more good than harm. 
We are reminded of Watteau in his early 'prentice days, when bound to a 
kind of purveyor of cheap art destined to be exported in every direction, 
he was compelled to turn out by the dozen images de pi'et'e — Holy Infants, 
Madonnas, angels, saints, monks, and demons. This early apprentice- 
ship of our painter to the wood-engraver determined, however, the 
branch of art in which he was first to essay his flight, and no doubt, as 
1 Essays oil Art, by J. Comyns Carr. 



FREDERICK WALKER n 

Mr. Comyns Carr points out, exercised a permanent influence upon his 
work even as a painter — an influence from which, like even the mighty 
Albert Diirer, the painter-engraver, but even more the engraver-painter, 
he was never wholly able to shake himself free. 

The periodical Once a Week had been founded in 1859, and attached 
to its staff were, among other artists of reputation, J. E. Millais, T. 
Sandys, John Leech, Charles Keene, and John Tenniel. In November 
1859, Walker divining here, as it is permissible to surmise, a unique 
opportunity for remunerative work and self-development side by side 
with men who had already won for themselves a name, ventured in some 
trepidation to call upon the editor of the new periodical to exhibit 
specimens of his work and seek employment as a draughtsman on wood. 
Tom Taylor, 1 who describes him at this point as " a nervous, timid, 
sensitive young fellow, frail and small of body, feverish of temperament, 
but ever prompt and bright of wit," goes on to say, " They (the drawings) 
were examined, approved, and a commission was given him to illustrate a 
story called Peasant Proprietorship, which appeared with the nervous 
young artist's illustration in the number for February 1 8th, i860." 

It has been ascertained, however, that it was in a paper called Every- 
body 's Journal that the very first in order of date of Walker's drawings 
came before the public. This was an illustration to a tale by Edmond 
About, entitled in its English dress, The Round of Wrong, and it saw the 
light on January 14th, i860. 

From that time to March, 1863, he was a constant contributor to 
Once a Week. He was responsible for twenty-four drawings in the two 
volumes for i860 ; twenty-nine in those for 1861 ; and twenty in those 
for 1862 ; while in 1863 he contributed a solitary design for After Ten 
Tears, the translation of a little poem by Geibel. This showed an elderly 
wayfarer, who, reappearing after a ten years absence clasps his sister in his 
arms, while her little ones look on wonderingly. The drawings of the 
preceding years chiefly illustrate two serial stories, The Settlers of the 
Long Arrow and The Prodigal Son. Somewhere at the end of i860, or 
beginning of 1861, Walker obtained an introduction, through Mr. George 
Smith, to Thackeray, then editor of the Cornhill Magazine, and the 

1 Preface to the Catalogue of the Exhibition of Works oj the late F. Walker, A.R.A., 
1876. 



12 FREDERICK WALKER 

chief mainstay among its contributors. 1 " Walker was nervous, and 
Thackeray after his own fashion strove to set him at his ease. He asked 
him if he could sketch. . . . and suggested that he should make a sketch 
of him while he was shaving. This Walker accomplished, and the result 
was so far satisfactory that at their next interview Thackeray told him 
that he wanted a drawing for one of the famous 'Roundabout Papers.' He 
indicated what was required in a rough sketch. . . . The principal figure 
was to be a back view of Thackeray himself, which Walker straightway 
executed by way of a preliminary study, and then afterwards embodied in 
the finished design engraved for the magazine." 

The rough sketch, or rather suggestion, for the composition as a 
whole was, however, on this occasion, supplied by Thackeray himself, a 
plan which he adopted also in the first drawings executed by Walker 
under his supervision for Philip on his Way through the World, then 
coming out in the Cornhill. This particular sketch, which has been in 
several Walker exhibitions, and most recently of all in the compre- 
hensive display of his minor works brought together by the Royal 
Society of Artists of Birmingham, this spring, belongs to the great 
writer's daughter, Mrs. Richmond Ritchie. It is infinitely more spirited 
and suggestive than the finished vignette which appeared accompanying 
the "Roundabout Paper" of February 1 86 1 , in the magazine. It has, 
indeed, just that freedom and spontaneity which in Walker's finished 
performances — be they in black-and-white, oils, or water-colours — is so 
often obliterated and replaced by a loving elaboration of subject and detail 
which has its characteristic charm, but also, as will be seen, its great 
dangers. Walker takes Thackeray's place as the illustrator-in-chief of 
Philip in the number of the Cornhill for May 1 86 1 (with the cut 
"Nurse and Doctor"), and thenceforward supplies the accompanying 
designs until the story ends in August 1862. The first cuts are unsigned, 
but at about the point indicated the initials " F. W.," which were to re- 
main Walker's artistic signature, appear modestly in the corner, and this 
is no doubt intended to mark the draughtsman's emancipation from 
leading strings. We know that sometimes when Thackeray was ill in 
bed, and yet obliged to remain at the helm, he would send for his young 
protege, and making him sit down at the bedside, relate the story to him 

1 J. Corny ns Carr, Essays on Art. 



FREDERICK WALKER 



13 



as it developed itself, so as to call up before his eyes the scenes fixed upon 
for illustration. 

It is a little difficult just now to appreciate at their true worth these 
illustrations of Walker's to Philip, much as it is to see the real merit 
of John Everett Millais's pictures in black and white to Anthony 
Trollope's too little remembered novel, Framley Parsonage. The 




■*/*■■ Jgfff' 



Pencil Drawing made for the " Corn/?!// Magazine." 



period which both had to illustrate was, as regards externals, a most 
unfortunate one. The men trimmed (or rather did not trim) their hair 
and whiskers in a fashion abhorrent to the present generation ; their hats, 
their clothes — even those of the dandies — were, according to present 
notions, the very essence of unsmartness. The women were, as to their 
coiffures, their head-gear, their toilette generally, the dowdiest of the 



i 4 FREDERICK WALKER 

dowdy, and their balloon-like skirts, unrelieved by the festoons and 
adornments which had rendered acceptable those still ampler ones of the 
eighteenth century, were of a hopelessly inexpressive monotony and 
vulgarity with which not even the most gifted draughtsman might hope 
to deal with success. And then the period represented is still so near 
to us that the artist's personages appear frumpy and out of date, without 
getting the benefit of a certain quaintness and unfamiliarity which by 
association lend charm to things even uncouth and ugly, if only they be 
sufficiently distant and sufficiently characteristic of the time to which 
they belong. The defects of Walker's illustrations are in a great 
measure those inherent in the externals of the scenes which he undertakes 
to depict. The ungainly garments and surroundings of his figures often 
overcome him, and he has not, though his drawings vastly improve both 
in conception and technique as he goes on, the supreme graphic skill 
which would enable him to rise superior to such disheartening obstacles. 

The merit of the Philip illustrations lies, as might have been expected, 
in what was very nearly a first work, less in well-ordered and concentrated 
design emphasizing the essential and relegating to the background the 
unessential points of a subject, than in the pathos and truth, the unques- 
tioning simplicity and sincerity of the whole. Thackeray's humour and 
satire are much less easily within Walker's reach than his pure pathos. 
It is in depicting the more serious scenes of the novel that he penetrates 
into the very heart of his subject, and divines, with an intuition rare indeed 
in so young an artist, the innermost meaning of the great humourist — 
causing his creations to stand out still more clearly, instead of blurring and 
confusing them, as many even of the most gifted among illustrators are 
wont to do. As in the book itself, so in the drawings, a thrill of human 
tenderness colours and transfigures the whole. It would be an exagger- 
ation to say that Thackeray, the keenest satirist, but also the most genial 
humourist of his time, is as adequately interpreted as Thackeray, the 
tear-compelling narrator of the least romantic incidents in English life. 
To suggest his satire, and what those imperfectly in touch with his art 
are pleased to style his cynicism, would require the mordant pencil of 
an Adolf Menzel, with a far bigger dose redeeming humanity than that 
most masterly of all modern draughtsmen commands. 

No one possessed what after his time it has become the fashion to 



FREDERICK WALKER 15 

style the religion of humanity more deeply and truly or more unaffectedly 
than Thackeray ; and he was never really without pity and pardon even 
for the most imperfect of the human creatures whose foibles he so un- 
sparingly laid bare. It is here that his youthful illustrator intuitively 
divines and expresses him. Take for instance the central figure of Philip 
himself — great, rough, kindly Philip, so loving and so lovable — how 
admirably and consistently he is expressed throughout ! How faithfully 
his ill-made baggy clothes, his bushy mane and whiskers are portrayed, 
and how unmistakably the typical Briton, in his nobler phase, shines out 
through it all ! With hardly less truth and pathos are the simplicity and 
purity of English womanhood, the wistfulness of childhood portrayed. 
The drawing of Philip in Church has become famous, especially in its 
later version, when elaborated as a water-colour. Notable, too, as 
illustrating the vein of true sentiment without sentimentality which gives 
distinction to the whole series, are At the Sick Man s Door, Paterfamilias, 
Comfort in Grief. The design Charlotte's Convoy reveals an unlooked- 
for subtlety and sense of values in the use of black and white, atmo- 
spheric gradation and the clearness of a starlit night being modestly but 
most truthfully conveyed. A Quarrel and Judith and Holof ernes are 
powerfully yet not stagily dramatic ; the latter, however, with all the 
vigour of its realism is in a somewhat more heroic vein than the subject 
calls for. 

It is the touchingly human quality, the subtle, unobtrusive observ- 
ation, bringing out spiritual rather than purely physical characteristics, 
which gives value to these and other early productions of Frederick 
Walker. Later on when — a new impulse reviving and giving added force 
to the early impressions received from a rudimentary study of Greek 
sculpture — the art of the painter develops decorative elements and a 
certain ambitious classicality in the presentment of everyday life, the 
poetic realism, the unobtrusive fidelity in the observation and interpreta- 
tion of fact are obscured, though not obliterated. Whether the gain in 
the one direction counterbalances the loss or diminution in the other 
remains to be seen ; this side of the question must be left for discussion 
a little further on. 

After Thackeray's Philip our artist illustrated successively Miss 
Thackeray's Story of Elizabeth and The Village on the Cliff, succeeding 




At the Sick Man's Door. 
Reproduced by permission of Messrs. Smith, Elder ana Co. 



FREDERICK WALKER 17 

hardly less well with the delicately outlined figures of the daughter than 
with the vividly realised creations of the father. 

Walker also supplied the drawings for Thackeray's unfinished novel 
Denis Duval, and here he was evidently much less at his ease. It 
was almost the only instance in which he had to deal with costumes 
and personages earlier than those of this century, and — in this the 
antithesis of those artists of whom Meissonier is the type and the most 
accomplished instance— he was hampered, not stimulated, by the con- 
ditions of the task imposed upon him. There is something forced, some- 
thing approaching mannerism and sentimentality even in the prettiest of 
these drawings, though they are in a style more calculated to secure 
popular appreciation than the previous ones. Among the most notable is. 
Denis Duval 's Valet, with its engaging but not quite simple portraiture 
of the steadfast, much-suffering little hero — just a little too contourne y 
both in conception and style. The same criticism may fairly be applied 
to the animated composition, Little Denis Dances and Sings before the 
Navy Gentlemen, while the Last Moments of the Count of Saverne 
is well put together and impressive, but inclines to the stage-dramatic 
rather than to the drama of reality. 

Mr. J. L. Roget has stated that Walker built up his distinctive manner 
as a draughtsman for wood-engraving, partly on the wood-drawing of 
Adolf Menzel, whose famous series of illustrations dealing with Frederick 
the Great and his campaigns was, it appears, much studied by him — 
partly on the new style and practice introduced by Millais and the 
Pre-Raphaelites, but with less of hard insistence and more freedom and 
grace than the latter could command. Certainly if the influence of 
Menzel is anywhere visible in Walker's black-and-white work, it is in 
these illustrations to Denis Duval. But as a rule that swiftness and 
supreme mastery of pencil applied to the precise notation of fact, that 
crdnerie of the elder master which, if it does not unnecessarily set up 
never shirks difficulties, are just the qualities which we do not, as a rule, 
find in our artist. With much more truth may it be asserted that 
Walker's art at this initial stage is more or less the outcome of that of 
Millais and the Pre-Raphaelites. If any English artist can be said to 
have exercised a direct influence over him, it is certainly Millais — the 
Millais of the first Pre-Raphaelite period at its maturity. But Walker, 

B 







Denis Duval' j Valet. 
Reproduced by permission of Messrs. Smith, Elder and Co. 



FREDERICK WALKER 19 

not less as an artist than as a man, was essentially self-developed — a true 
product of his time, but yet isolated from his predecessors and fellow- 
workers as have been very few even among painters of undoubted 
initiative and originality. Once fairly started he owed much less to 
his contemporaries, whether English or French, than has been imagined, 
and to ancient art other than classical sculpture, nothing. 

This attitude of aloofness is to be noted neither all in praise nor all in 
blame ; it is the natural outcome of Walker's temperament, of his 
apparently limited power of appreciating such art as was outside the 
bounds of his own immediate sympathies. It is the result of his 
absolute self-concentration, and his curious system of slowly, laboriously 
working up artistic material. Important determining impulses from 
without he certainly received at more than one point in his career, and in 
submitting to these he but followed the natural and, indeed, one may 
say, inevitable order in which a true creative personality, such as his, 
develops itself. If, without descending to mere imitation, he had shown 
himself more capable of assimilating the technical results achieved by 
others, he might have glided more easily over many a stumbling-block, 
and attained to that perfect, unfettered expression of self which, as it 
is, he cannot be said to have reached. 

Besides Once a Week and the Cornhill our artist did work in these 
years for Good Words, Sunday at Home, and other magazines. 

It is during this period that he executed for Messrs. Dalziel his 
drawings of the Seasons, which are of especial interest as affording 
elements of comparison with the later versions of the same subjects 
amplified in his more elaborate style. Spring shows with true tender- 
ness and simplicity a girl and boy gathering primroses in a thicket 
blossoming already, although its branches are still naked and gaunt. 
Summer, a truly Pre-Raphaelite performance in its literalness and naive 
truth, presents two boys bathing in a pool overhung with trees. It has 
been pointed out that here we have the original motive out of which 
grew, first a water-colour in which the figures are more numerous and 
the design takes a more graceful shape, then one of the artist's most 
important works, 'The Bathers of 1867. Autumn shows a girl in an 
orchard, standing under a still leafy apple-tree laden with fruit ; one of 
these she has plucked and holds in her hand. The design of Winter is 

B 2 




Little Denis Dances and Sings before the Navy Gentlemen. 
Reproduced by permission of Messrs, Smith, Elder and Co. 



FREDERICK WALKER 21 

more restricted and prosaic in conception ; it gives us, much as one of 
William Hunt's water-colours might have done, only with a certain pen- 
siveness in lieu of jollity, a boy standing at a frozen pump, with a halt- 
bitten piece of bread-and-butter in his hand. In Spring, the differences 
between the earlier and simpler drawing and the later and more developed 
one, as it appeared, a water-colour of important dimensions, at the Royal 
Society of Painters in Water- Colours, are particularly striking and in- 
structive. The first Spring is a shade stiff, but it is true in gesture and 
movement — as delicately as accurately observed. The second, more pictur- 
esque and decorative in design, is less immediately based on Nature, and 
therefore less truly expressive. There is something forced and very nearly 
artificial in the grace of the child's movements, something of that contourne 
quality in the design, upon which there has once before been occasion 
to remark. The Autumn is already a little over-studied in the first 
rendering ; its expressiveness cannot be said to be enhanced in the 
subsequent and more elaborate version. 

Mr. Comyns Carr has in his already more than once quoted essay dwelt 
with evident sympathy on this peculiar quality of Walker's ; this constant 
attraction exercised over him by his earliest motives, this system of 
returning to them over and over again, to change, to amplify, to adorn 
with the fruits of a passionate and sustained study of Nature in her 
minutest details. While, however, inventions such as those of our painter 
may gain in studied grace and ideality, in maturity of conception and rich- 
ness of amassed detail, by a gradual process of elaboration and completion 
such as that to which he submitted them, they must necessarily lose in 
spontaneity and freshness, in swiftness and truth of delineation. It is not 
easy with such a system to retain that indefinable quality which suggests 
the instantaneous vision of the painter, seeing his subject complete in 
essentials ere he attacks it. Over-elaboration — the working out of a 
subject as it were from different centres instead of as one coherent, dramatic 
whole — is precisely the drawback from which Walker's art most suffers. 
His method of progressive development well accounts for the mixed 
feeling with which we contemplate precisely those works by which his 
fame has been won ; for the difficulty which, while admiring exquisite 
episodes in these, we feel in grasping them in their entirety ; for 
the lack of that current of vitality which should hold together the 



22 



FREDERICK WALKER 



component parts of a great work and give it both pictorial and dramatic 
unity. 

It may be as well to deal here with a notable instance in point, though 
somewhat out of its proper chronological order. There is, perhaps, in 
the whole range of Walker's ceuvre no design more forcible, more masterly 
in its absolute grasp of nature, than the little-known etching The Way- 
farers. The suggestion of onward movement, the characterisation of the 
two figures — that of the sturdy, youthful rustic, no less than that of the 




The Wayfarers. 



old and disabled peasant of forbidding aspect who leans on him for 
support — is perfect. The landscape is certainly more prosaic and less 
attractive than in the later version — the' large canvas of the same name 
and subject which dates from 1866, and was last seen in public 
this winter at the Old Masters' Exhibition. This latter land- 
scape with its late autumn melancholy, its moist atmosphere, its maze 
of tangled branches and twigs nearly stripped of their leaves, is one 
of the painter's most elaborate and beautiful transcriptions from 
nature. The figures, however, will not bear comparison with the singular 



FREDERICK WALKER 23 

and more realistic ones of the etching. A sort of pseudo-idealism 
has been at work sentimentalising them at the expense of the unvarnished 
truth which, as we may guess, appeared to the artist too prosaic for per- 
petuation on a large scale. The pretty youth who supports and guides 
the steps of a vagrant, of milder but less probable mien than that of his 
predecessor, skates rather than walks on the down-hill road ; an air of 
weak, sweetened semi-realism pervades the whole, and in this instance 
individual truth is sacrificed, but general truth is not attained in a compensa- 
tory degree. The etching not having been published during the painter's 
lifetime, it is not easy to fix the exact date of its execution. Still it is 
manifest that it rests upon a design which must, from its very nature, 
have preceded that of the finished picture in oils. 

Among the designs for wood-engraving executed in these early years 
(about 1863) must be particularly noted The Dame's School, which in 
the drawing on the block, still intact, 1 is much finer than in the pub- 
lished version. This is a typical example of Walker's happy treatment 
in early days of the simplest of everyday subjects. Here he does not 
distort his theme, or force into it more than it can well bear. He 
preserves intact all significant fact, but transfigures it by the glow of his 
ardent sympathy. Still a little stiff" and hesitating in the working out, the 
composition is finely and evenly balanced, well observed in all its parts, 
and its unity remains unimpaired. 

While working for bread and butter at his black-and-white work, 
Walker was learning to paint, both in oils and water-colours, though 
whether his self-education in these directions was assisted by any regular 
tuition does' not sufficiently appear. His first important essay in oils 
was the canvas The Lost Path, which was exhibited at the Royal 
Academy in 1863, and though there skied — as the first production of 
an unknown man painting in an unfamiliar way may often happen to 
be — attracted considerable notice and praise. Judging by the powerful 
etching of Mr. Waltner — the writer cannot call to mind to have seen the 
picture itself — the design is one of the most convincing, one of the most 

1 This drawing tor wood-engraving, which was shown at the Paris Exhibition of 
1878, has recently been acquired, together with those of Autumn and a few subjects 
from Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer, for the Print Room of the British Museum. 
The South Kensington Museum has the similar drawing for The Fishmonger, and the 
wood-block for Summer above described. 



24 FREDERICK WALKER 

concise and natural in its strength that Walker produced. A woman 
caught in a snowstorm, which has made of the cross-country path a 
trackless drift, presses on swiftly, holding her sleeping child wrapped 
from harm in her shawl ; her half-seen face, as she closely presses the 
precious burden to her bosom, shows courage to fight for life, yet withal 
but little hope. 

It was in August, 1863, after sending in this maiden work in oils 
to the Royal Academy, that Walker made a first visit to Paris in the 
company of his friend Mr. Philip Calderon (now R.A.), who, our painter 
being all guiltless of French, agreed to pilot him round the sister city 
and show him the artistic lions. 

Mr. Calderon notes that, so far as he could judge from appearances, 
Walker remained but little moved in the presence of even the greatest 
masterpieces of the Louvre, no single picture attracting his attention 
sufficiently to induce him to speak of it afterwards. 

One great canvas, however, the Sacre de T Imperatrice Josephine 
by David, then in the museum at Versailles, but within the last few years 
removed thence to the Louvre, quite fascinated him. Mr. Calderon says : 
u He kept us a Jong time in the room studying the picture from corner to 
corner, and when we at last left it, he gave us the slip and ran back to 
it, and was with difficulty got away." At first, there seems to be an 
irreconcilable anomaly in the fact of Walker, the tender, the homely, the 
child of to-day, bowing down before the stern Graeco-Roman David, 
when neither Raphael, Titian, nor Rembrandt had succeeded in moving 
him. There is however in the central group of David's great work, 
showing Josephine in the elegant half-classic costume of the moment, 
with her imperial robes upheld by the fairest ladies of her court, a 
perfection of balance, a suavity and a stately grace which must have 
called up reminiscences of that early classic training among the marbles of 
Greece and Rome of which the influence was before long to re-assert itself 
so strongly. Of still higher interest is it to learn from the same informant 
that at the Luxembourg it was Jules Breton with his Fin de la Journee, 
and not Delacroix, Couture, or any of the more full-blown glories of the 
century, who attracted our painter's notice. 1 On the occasion of this his 

1 An amusing caricature by Walker, which we might well have assumed to be the 
outcome of this first trip to Paris, were it not stated on good authority that this is not 



FREDERICK WALKER 25 

first visit to Paris in 1863, it bv no means follows as a matter of course 
that he had an opportunity of seeing any original work by Jean-Francois 
Millet, who, although he had at that date already produced his greatest 
masterpieces, was still hotly discussed in Paris, and by no means defini- 
tively accepted on all sides. Had our artist waited for the Salon of 1863, 
which there is no reason to suppose that he did, he would have had 
an opportunity of seeing the immortal L 1 Homme a la Houe, than which 
no work of the French master was on its first appearance more 
passionately praised or more unsparingly attacked. There is much 
in Jules Breton's serene melancholy never quite reaching the verge 
of sadness, in the idyllic grace which he infuses into modern rustic 
life, which must have appealed to Walker even more than the 
noble generalisations and the massive grandeur of Millet. 1 One must, 
however, listen to his friend's wise note of warning, and refrain from 
drawing absolutely hard-and-fast conclusions from Walker's silence 
about art, and questions connected with it. He was, we are told 
" the most silent man I have ever known — -never joining in a discussion, 
but listening (with a twinkle in his eye) to what others said, without ever 
giving a clue to his own opinions, and ending generally by heartily 
laughing at both sides." Mr. Calderon's conclusion, to which much 
weight must attach, as that of a brother artist and friend who lived some 
years in close intimacy with our painter, is that neither French nor 
indeed English art had any lasting influence on him. Yet, judging Walker 
by his works and the course taken by his art in unfolding itself — reasoning 
too, by analogy with the early developments of even the most original 
genius — this must appear a somewhat exaggerated statement of his position. 
True, it may be safely said that hardly any modern English artist of mark 
has so little belonged to a definite group or school ; yet it is evident — the 
remark has already been made here — that the English downrightness, the 

the case, is the pen-and-ink drawing Doing Paris : the Last Day (collection of Mr. W. 
H. Hooper), showing our artist in his shirt-sleeves lying exhausted on his French bed, 
while a companion, whose face is effectually hidden, sits at ease, deep in the Times. 
This sketch is drawn on some notepaper marked with the heading of the Hotel Rastadt. 
1 Yet more strongly was the exquisite art of George Mason, while it showed on the one 
hand strong affinities with that of the Italian landscape painter, Costa, influenced by that 
of Jules Breton ; as may be clearly seen, for instance, in one of his masterpieces, The 
Evening Hymn, 



26 FREDERICK WALKER 

sincerity and pathos of John Everett Millais in his first manner deeply 
affected him, and left an easily recognizable trace on the art of his earlier 
time. 

Though it is emphatically untrue that Walker, save perhaps in one 
or two exceptional instances, deliberately imitated French art, or in any 
way " Frenchified " himself, it may very fairly be inferred that from the 
contemplation of such works as those of Jules Breton and Millet, he 
received a new impulse. May not such an impulse have revived his 
dormant classical reminiscences, and opened his eyes to the artistic 
possibilities of modern rustic life presented without the sentimental airs 
and graces with which it had hitherto been tricked out ? Looking back 
at the painter's artistic career, we find ourselves wondering whether the 
impulse thus communicated, though at what exact point it would be 
hazardous to affirm, was not for harm as well as for good — whether 
Walker's genius might not more legitimately have developed itself on 
the basis of national art, and with that simplicity free from all arriere- 
pensee with which it started. 



CHAPTER II 

The Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours ; " Philip in Church " — At the Royal 
Academy — Caricatures — Visit to Paris in i 867 — Influence of Jean Francois Millet 
■ — Visit to Venice — "The Vagrants" — "The Old Gate.'" 

The Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours showed itself much 
more ready to appreciate Walker's work than the Royal Academy had 
been ; with them he came, he was seen, he conquered. The historian of 
the Society, Mr. Roget, tells us that he was elected an Associate on the 
8th of February, 1864, on the strength of three out of four drawings sent 
to the spring exhibition ; so that he actually made his first appearance at 
Pall Mall East full-fledged, judged, and accepted as worthy almost with- 
out probation. Before referring to these drawings it may be well to 
deal with one produced a year or two previously. This is The Black- 
berry Gatherers (collection of Mr. John Galsworthy), signed as no 
other work of the artist's with which we are acquainted is signed, " F. 
Walker, i860." It is a curiously stippled little production, which, 
were it not for a certain personal grace and tenderness making itself felt 
even thus early, might almost be taken for a Birket Foster. 

The water-colours sent to the Society in 1864 were Philip in 
Church ; the large Spring, to the development of which from the 
earlier and smaller version, drawn for a woodcut, a passing reference has 
already been made ; Garden Scene, a subject from Charlotte Bronte's 
Jane Eyre ; Refreshment, a design showing a group of children at 
dinner in a field, which, in black-and-white, had already appeared in the 
same year in Good Words. These first contributions to a water-colour 
exhibition show different degrees of maturity, and from the Garden 
Scene, to Philip in Church, the advance is so marked, that the two 



28 FREDERICK WALKER 

drawings cannot well have been produced simultaneously. The Garden 
Scene (collection of Mr. George Smith) carefully stippled in the artist's 
first manner is hard and dry in colour, stiff in composition, and does 
not show a complete grasp of the personages represented — Rochester 
and Jane Eyre. It has, on the other hand, that perfect naivete and 
sincerity which may win pardon for many faults, that realism, poetized by 
feeling but not by any tampering with everyday truth, which belongs to 
English Pre-Raphaelitism in its first and most genuine phase. 

Philip in Church (collection of Mr. Henry Tate), is a fuller and more 
detailed realization of the beautiful woodcut which appeared in the Corn- 
hill Magazine, but happily not a new variation or a fuller development of 
the subject. It reveals even more strongly the influence of this same Pre- 
Raphaelitism, as embodied above all in Sir J. E. Millais's earliest and 
most remarkable efforts. It is infinitely richer in colour, more perfect 
in drawing, happier altogether in realization than the companion picture 
just now referred to. Of its kind Walker has done nothing finer, 
perhaps nothing so fine, and one can well understand the verdict which a 
little later on, at the Paris International Exhibition of 1867, conferred 
upon the artist in respect of this very work, the second-class medal, a 
distinction not obtained by any other exhibited drawing in the same 
medium. What is particularly winning about the Philip, apart from 
its more easily reckoned up merits — its happy combination of wonderful 
finish with a sufficient breadth, and the essential quality of physical and 
spiritual life — is that it is typically English, altogether true and national 
in its growth. A radiance of sympathy emanates from the artist and 
envelops his creations, lighting from within with beauty a certain home- 
liness and dowdiness inherent to the subject. Inevitably, when a little 
later there is superimposed on this homely English realism an element 
of decorative classicism, beautiful in itself, but not legitimately evolved 
from its essence, the dramatic, the creative side of Walker's art sinks 
a little into the background, and what is gained in graciousness is lost 
in vital truth. 

Our painter on this the occasion of his debut, proved himself to be 
already a highly skilful executant according to the peculiar method which 
he had elaborated for himself. His results were obtained by a lavish use 
of opaque pigment, the high finish of every part, in which there was 




J.njaOp. I*'- %t1\ 



-li :,,■!„ ie.lt ;■•/: , 



-J hi lip tn (i lunch 




Spring. 
Reproduced by permission of Messrs. Agnew and Sons, owners of the Copyright. 



3o FREDERICK WALKER 

nothing perfunctory or " niggling," being due to a juxtaposition of 
the minutest touches. This use of opaque body-colour was carried to 
an extreme point in such later water-colours as Stobhall Gardens and 
Lilies, where the high-lights are rendered with a regular impasto 
which at close quarters give these drawings a speckled appearance, 
such as may be noticed in Constable's later oil-paintings. 

The next two years after the first important success had been achieved 
were not, if we are to judge by what was actually brought before the 
public, a period of rapid or sustained production. No oil picture saw 
the light, and even water-colours were few and far between. Among 
these may be mentioned Denis Duval's Valet, showing the redoubtable 
Madame Duval dressing the hair of her brave little son ; this is an 
elaboration without material alteration of the illustration to Thackeray's 
unfinished novel in the Cornhill. It was exhibited in the winter of 
1864-5, an d to the same period must belong another similar drawing, 
Evidence for the Defence, derived from the same source, and giving 
the scene where little Denis proudly exhibits his pistol to his school 
friend. 

By the 30th of November, 1866, on which day he became a full 
member of the Old Water-Colour Society, he had only, says Mr. Roget, 
after his initial appearance, added two more drawings to the summer 
exhibitions and three sketches and studies to the winter ones. Among 
these were, in 1865, the large Autumn, which is the second edition of the 
design for a wood-cut, already referred to; in 1866, The Bouquet, a 
gardener presenting a nosegay to two children dressed in black, which 
had also been preceded by a drawing on wood of somewhat different 
treatment ; and in 1866-7, ^ ie Introduction, with figures in the costume 
of about 1800. He had not again at that date submitted himself to 
the ordeal of the hanging committee at the Royal Academy, but in 1866 
exhibited his large canvas, The Wayfarers, at Gambart's Gallery in King 
Street, St. James's. The picture has already been incidentally described 
in its connection with the etching of the same name. 

With The Wayfarers (now belonging to Mr. William Agnew), 
and the more celebrated Bathers of the subsequent year, Walker 
approaches the period which must be called that of his maturity as an 
oil painter, although, had he lived, this too would have proved itself, no 




Autumn. 
Reproduced by permission of Messrs. Agncw and Sons, owners of the Copyright. 



32 FREDERICK WALKER 

doubt, to be but a transitional stage. The Bathers appeared at the 
Royal Academy in 1867 — his second contribution to its exhibitions — and 
was there unfavourably hung, though not at such an altitude as its 
predecessor, Lhe Lost Path. It is in many respects the best of Walker's 
productions on this large scale, broader and freer in execution, if less 
minutely finished and less exquisite in local passages of colour, than its 
fellows, more synthetic in treatment, and of a classicality sounder because 
arising more naturally out of the subject depicted. In an evening 
landscape studied, we are told, from Walker's beloved Thames between 
Cookham and Marlow, on the rush-grown banks of the low-lying river, 
beyond which rise tall trees bordering an unseen road, appear, under one 
of the painter's favourite warm evening skies, a company of naked youths 
and boys, some stripping themselves for the bath, some dressing again, 
some larking with the smaller fry, some puffing and blowing in the stream 
itself. If the composition is by no means perfect as a whole, it has many 
admirable groups and passages. It happily breaks, too, with its buoyant 
variety what would otherwise be the monotony of the long horizontal 
lines made by river and banks. Many delightful episodes arrest the eye 
by their truth and plastic beauty. See to the extreme right the youth 
hurrying along to the edge a half-unwilling urchin ; and again the boy in 
his shirt hauling another up the bank ; and yet again the young swimmer 
with his head only visible as he breasts the current. The central figure 
of a nude youth half-kneeling jars, on the other hand, in the midst of all 
this nature, though his head is beautiful as that of a Greek ephebus on the 
painter's favourite frieze of the Parthenon. Here the element of studied 
classicality imported quand meme into the subject is felt to be an intrusion 
as it is also in the erect figure of the nude bather who stands dreaming a 
moment, as he strips off his last garment and braces himself for the 
plunge. The too deliberately sculptural character of these and one or 
two other elements of the design harmonizes but imperfectly with the 
undistorted truth, with the genuine spontaneity of the rest. There is, no 
doubt, in the unshamed nakedness of youth, so supple and free in 
movement, a kind of classicality of its own, but in these particular figures, 
though not elsewhere in the picture, it is carried too far, and obtained 
too much at the expense of the life and sincerity of characterization 
which are of the very essence of the subject. It is to be noted that, 



FREDERICK WALKER 33 

here and in most other instances, Walker's flesh tints incline too much 
to a leathery brownness, and that the open-air effect of light playing 
upon the surfaces of the nude human figure is hardly realized. Thus, 
that the importation of this new element into Walker's art — or better 
this fuller development of a latent tendency — is not wholly due to an 
impulse given by contemporary French art is proved by the Bathers. 
Yet it is none the less to be inferred from facts, and from a consideration 
in chronological order of the work produced in these particular years, 
that its infusion into purely rustic subjects belonging to the England of 
to-day was due in a measure to such an impulse, though the method 
followed in suggesting ancient Greece under modern England was 
Walker's own. 

Some of the most genuinely inspired of his drawings for woodcuts 
were those which illustrated Miss Thackeray's stories, and not a few of 
them were afterwards worked up more elaborately in water-colour, without 
any essential deviation from the original designs. One subject from 
The Village on the Cliff appeared at the Old Society in 1867, and in 
1870-71 (to mention it a little out of its right place) another, the 
exquisite Let us Drink to the Health of the Absent — a perfect accom- 
paniment in its reticent tenderness to the prose of the gifted writer, and 
technically remarkable for the skilful lighting, the extraordinary yet not 
excessive finish of the draughtsmanship. Two designs from Jack the 
Giant Killer, in Miss Thackeray's volume, Five Old Friends, and A 
Young Prince (published in 1868) were in the year of their production 
treated in water-colour, one The Chaplain s Daughter, the other one of 
our painter's masterpieces of invention and expression, The Three Fates, 
both these subjects being sent to the exhibition of the Old Society in 
1868. The Clotho Lachesis and Atropos of Miss Thackeray's pathetic 
tale are three grim provincial old ladies of to-day — Walker's, to-day which 
is now a quarter of a century old — whose strange figures are woven 
together with a technical and dramatic subtlety, and treated with a 
pictorial charm, with a genuine humour not often paralleled in 
Walker's works. For humour, except in a few of his caricatures, was 
the quality least often found in what he produced. A ray of un- 
shadowed joy at the more beautiful aspects of life often broke through 
the atmosphere of reflective melancholy which was his favourite mood ; 

c 



34 



FREDERICK WALKER 



but this had not the boisterousness of a frank gaiety, still less the 
indefinable quality of humour. This quality of genuine humour was 
not always attained even in the regular caricatures in which he 
occasionally indulged, amusing as these were in their own quiet way, 
notwithstanding a certain stiffness and deliberation in the draughtsman- 
ship which not altogether suits this sort of work, of which spontaneity 
is the essence. Well known is the drawing Genius under the Influence 
of Fresh Air and Beautiful Scenery : Sunday, August joth y 1863, 1 with 




The Three Fates. 



caricatural portraits of two intimate friends, Mr. Calderon, R.A., and 
Mr. Stacy Marks, R.A. ; and here both drawing and fun are a little 
forced. Another caricature marks the election of Sir Frederick 
Leighton and Mr. Calderon as full members of the Royal Academy in 
1867, and shows the two painters enthroned side by side, receiving 
pontifically the homage of the professionals and worldlings who press 
forward to make obeisance to them. 

1 Portfolio, 1876. 






FREDERICK WALKER 35 

Walker actually, in the year 1865, when the proprietors of Punch 
were casting about them to find a successor to Leech, whose death had 
taken place in October, 1864, executed several drawings — with not 
unqualified success — for the London Charivari. One of these was 
New Bathing Company {Limited) — Specimens of Costume to be worn 
by the Shareholders ; another, Captain Jinks of the " Selfish " and his 
Friends enjoying themselves on the River. In the latter Walker 
speaks, or rather draws, feelingly ; for he loved the Thames above 
all things, and resented the selfishness of the blatant pleasure-seekers 
who with their steam-launches ruffled its waters and the tempers of 
those who made more legitimate use of them. The Portfolio l has in 
former years given some specimens of the sketches in which he 
made mock of his own inordinate passion for fly-fishing. One of 
the most amusing of these is the pen-and-ink drawing done in 
September, 1873, in answer to an alluring invitation to go North and 
indulge in his favourite sport. He shows himself tempted by visions of 
huge fish, one of twenty-six pounds, caught by a friend, being intro- 
duced to him by a kilted gillie, and others swimming around ready to 
be hooked. This is quaintly styled The Temptation of St. Anthony 
Walker. With these exceptional excursions into realms which were 
not his by right, we may mention the very large cartoon (85 by 51 
inches) which he did for the theatrical poster advertising a dramatised 
version of Wilkie Collins's Woman in White ; this was exhibited at the 
"Black and White" Exhibition of the Dudley Gallery in 1872. 
Judging by the preliminary study in the rich collection of Mr. J. P. 
Heseltine, this is rather too much in the academic and impersonal 
style, too little suggestive of the element of weirdness and mystery in the 
story itself. 

Not to be classed as caricatures, though a gentle vein of merriment, 
appropriate, and indeed, indispensable under the circumstances, pervades 
them, are the three beautiful designs for invitation cards executed for 
Mr. Arthur J. Lewis when he played host to the Moray Minstrels at 
Moray Lodge, Campden Hill. Of the exquisite delicacy of these little 
decorative compositions the readers of the Portfolio have the means of 
judging from the reproductions now given for the first time — in two 

1 In the Portfolio, volume for 1875. 

C 2 



36 



FREDERICK WALKER 



instances from the cards themselves, in the third from Walker's own 
design. It is curious that this mock-Greek group of musicians and 
dancers, parodying, but ever so slightly, some Anacreontic scene from a 




The Woman in White. Design for a Poster. 



red-on-black vase of the best period, is Walker's only extant attempt to 
give form to a subject actually and avowedly classical, although the style 
of ancient Greece, and especially its style in sculptural relief, was 
rarely absent from what he did in his later years. The dates of these 



38 FREDERICK WALKER 

V 

invitation cards were respectively 1865, 1866, and 1867, the designs 
having been made in the latter part of the years preceding. 

But to return, after this too long digression, to the discussion of the 
artist's more important works in their proper sequence, and to the facts 
more directly bearing upon the evolution of these. And first, it is 
on record that he went to Paris for the Universal Exhibition of 1867, 
and this circumstance is of high importance in determining the degree 
of influence, if any, exercised over him by contemporary French art. 

At this Exhibition Walker had his first great opportunity of seeing 
and judging Millet, who was there represented by no less than eight of 
his finest oil paintings, among these being such now famous examples as 
Une Tondeuse de Moutons, Les Glaneuses, V Angelus du Soir (as it was 
then more accurately entitled), Un Berger, Recolte des Pommes de terre, 
and Un pare a moutons : clair de lune. M. Jules Breton, by whom, as 
has been pointed out, Walker had already been attracted on the 
occasion of his first visit, was represented by no less than ten important 
canvases, among which were Le Rappel des Glaneuses, La Benediction des 
Bles, Les Sarcleuses, Une Gar dense de Dindons, La Fin de la J our nee, and 
La Moisson. What was the impression made at the time by these works 
on Walker the silent there is — so far as the writer can gather — nothing 
definite to show, for on such subjects he would not, or could not, open 
his heart, even to his most intimate friends. But we may surely quite 
legitimately infer from the decided movement in a given direction im- 
parted to his art about this time, and in particular from the increased 
effort to infuse into the treatment of rustic and open-air subjects a certain 
ideality of treatment, a certain rhythmic harmony — in fact the qualities 
essential to though not alone making up style — that he was deeply moved 
and permanently influenced by what he saw. Of plagiarism or of 
deliberate imitation, except in one exceptional instance presently to be 
dealt with, there can be no question. Walker's peculiar temperament 
did not permit him, even had he striven to do so, to take up permanently 
this sort of attitude towards any other painter, and his style was, even 
thus early, so far formed that the whole basis of his art would have 
been disturbed by the attempt to follow in the footsteps of another. 

It has been said here more than once — it was an impulse re- 
ceived rather than an influence submitted to ; the painter was already 



T7~r 







o 



40 FREDERICK WALKER 

prepared to look for certain definite things in the everyday humanity, 
in the everyday nature which may almost be said to constitute an 
integral part of that humanity. He was by the noble examples 
before him made to see more clearly certain higher possibilities in the 
rendering of the rustic scenes to which he felt himself increasingly 
drawn. Whether, given his strong artistic individuality with its well- 
defined limitations, given his way of lovingly dwelling on the particular 
rather than looking for the general in nature, we must judge him to 
have taken at this point the straight or the devious path, depends on 
our appreciation of the works now to be described. 

The one instance in which it must be held that Walker's art is 
directly imitative of that of Jean-Francois Millet is the Mushroom 
Gatherers, in the collection of Mr. Somerset Beaumont, painted about 
1868. The solemn, mournful tonality of the landscape, with its illumi- 
nation of earliest dawn, but above all the figure of the man stooping, 
basket in hand, in the foreground, irresistibly reminds the beholder of 
the noble style, the balance in action, of the solemn poet-painter of 
rustic life. The design more particularly recalled is that of Le Semeur, 
which does not appear in the list of works exhibited in 1867. It had, 
however, been shown as far back as 1850, at the Salon of that year, and 
had been much popularised by a fine lithograph, so that an acquaintance 
with the design, if not the picture, may be presumed without taking too 
much for granted. And then again there were among Millet's works 
shown at the Universal Exhibition not a few from which a similar 
inspiration might well have been derived. To tell the truth, this solitary 
attempt of Walker's to make his own the manner and the subjects 
of Millet is not one of his happiest efforts, even though the tenderness 
which never deserts him gives undeniable charm to the conception. The 
attitude and action of the male figure in the English painter's Mush- 
room Gatherers is less legitimately explained, more compulsorily strained 
into classical grace than that of Millet's unforgetable figure. The picture 
in its present state is a finished sketch in oils on paper affixed to a panel. 
We learn from Mr. Comyns Carr that it was intended to develop it 
into a composition of more important dimensions, and that a large study 
for the landscape alone was actually found in Walker's studio after his 
death. 



FREDERICK WALKER 



4i 



To about this period belongs, as may be inferred from its style, the 
exquisite water-colour, In an Orchard, belonging to Mr. J. P. Heseltine. 
This is almost as markedly an exception in Walker's ceuvre as the picture 
just described, but a happier excursion, and one in an entirely different 
direction. The scene is a plantation of fruit-trees, depicted in all the 
glory of delicately tinted blossom and bright unstained foliage, under 
blue heavens literally flooded with joy-giving sunlight. Beneath the 




Design for an Invitation Card. 



trees, all youth and growth like them, a company of happy children 
toddle along. At first sight one might take the picture for an unusually 
subtle and lovely plein air of foreign growth, so boldly is the difficulty 
of full sunlight attacked and overcome, so happy the treatment of the 
coloured shadows. But the figures are English, and English in the best 
sense of the word ; they are touched with just that sympathy, that 
reticent truth upon which it is difficult to insist too strongly, as one of 
Walker's finest and most distinctive qualities. 



FREDERICK WALKER 



43 



The Street, Cookham, exhibited in 1866^7 (and therefore noticed a 
little out of its right sequence), is one of the best of those more 
spontaneous designs in which the artist treated a simple subject with 
no other aspiration than to express by legitimate means all its natural 
beauty. With a well-suggested continuity of onward movement a young 
girl drives before her, through the broken-down red-roofed houses ot 
the winding village street, a flock of cackling geese. What loving care 




The Street, Cookham. 



Walker gave to every essential detail of even such a subject as this 
may be gathered from the fact that the geese were studied from life, 
not once, but repeatedly, and at leisure, from some birds kept for the 
purpose in his small garden at Bayswater. 

One of the loveliest of this class of purely English drawings, one ot 
which might be said, with far more truth, what a French critic recently 
said of the marine pictures of Mr. Hook — that they seemed to breathe 
torth a mute prayer — is The First Swallow (collection of Professor 



44 FREDERICK WALKER 

Hubert Herkomer, R.A.), the exact date of which does not appear to 
have been ascertained. A great white hawthorn in all the exuberant 
loveliness of full May mirrors its fragrant snow in a shallow stream, 
across which skims the swallow which gives its name to the picture. 
Through the sun and shadow of the walk just beyond move gently, in 
full enjoyment of the moment, a fair-haired young girl and a boy still 
younger, her brother beyond doubt — she sheltering herself from the 
sun's first hot rays, and encircling the boy with one arm — he dividing 
his enjoyment between his sister's caress and the big tome which he lazily 
holds. The may-tree in bloom is painted as perhaps no may-tree was 
ever painted before, with perfect accuracy in every detail, and yet with 
a breadth and feeling for the fairness of the thing as a whole, to which 
our painter did not always attain. The swallow and its reflection are taken 
a little too much au pied de la lettre, and the picture thus loses something 
in spontaneity and suggestiveness. The wonderful little figures are 
drawn with that exquisite finish which the artist was wont to lavish upon 
such elements of his designs. Beautiful in themselves they are manifestly 
too elaborate for the place they occupy in the picture ; they could not 
be seen thus by the eye which takes in the whole. In a different way, 
but from something like the same cause, the sincere and uncompromising 
art of Bastien-Lepage suffered from his unflinching accuracy in detail, 
from the searching modelling of those unique rustic portraits which he 
was wont to frame in the landscapes of his beloved province. 

Many of Walker's most celebrated water-colours date from the year 
1868, and it must be owned that in none of these smaller works does 
the French influence which has been noted above maintain itself. 

Those drawings have already been noticed which are elaborations in 
water-colour of illustrations done for Miss Thackeray's Five Old Friends 
and A Young Prince. 

Lilies (collection of Mrs. William Graham) may be taken as typical 
of that class of drawing in which Walker has depicted with an unsurpassed 
lavishness of detail, with innumerable pure and delicate touches, the 
exuberant yet well-ordered splendour of the English flower-garden in full 
summer beauty. If we concede to the painter the peculiarity of his 
standpoint, and accept that in English water-colour so revolutionary 
technique which was his own invention, the thing could hardly be better 



-■•.< .-, ::"mi%? 




The First Swallow. 
Reproduced by permission oj Messrs. Agnezo and Sons, owners of the Copyright. 



46 FREDERICK WALKER 

done. The only disturbing element is the figure of the young lady in 
summer attire who bends down to water the tall white lilies that give 
their name to the picture. This is strained and awkward ; it wants the 
charm which the artist, as a rule, knew how to impart even to his mis- 
takes. Of Mushrooms and Fungi (collection of Mr. Humphrey Roberts) 
it has been said, not without reason, that it showed a desire to emulate the 
achievements in the same style of William Hunt. If so, we must agree 
with Mr. Ruskin when he says, " It entirely beats my dear old William 
Hunt in the simplicity of execution, and rivals him in the subtlest truth." 
This group of creamy-white mushrooms and fungi of a disquieting 
beauty, with their lovely hues in vivid contrast to the bright green of the 
bed on which they lie, is far more delicate in colour than anything of 
Hunt's, and as accurate in execution. Moreover, it is a picture with a 
suggestive charm beyond its mere elements, which is just what Hunt's 
wonderfully stippled plums, hawthorn-blossom, birds' nests and eggs were 
not. The earlier artist was a master when he rendered the happier side 
of rustic life, when he inimitably caught and fixed the waggishness, the 
bubbling laughter of untamed boyhood ; but those still-life pieces of his 
were surely an elaborate and capital mistake. 

To this same year belong Walker's Beehives, and A Stream in Inver- 
ness-shire, the latter being one of his rare recollections of that Scotland 
which he loved mainly because it afforded him his favourite sport of 
salmon fishing, and but little on account of its scenic beauties. These 
were too obvious, they had been too frequently laid bare by others for 
a nature-lover of his temperament ; and then they were so much less 
expressive, in their orthodox picturesqueness, of man and his struggles 
than the familiar yet never commonplace beauties of his own beloved 
Thames. 1 

Proof of a first visit to Venice in this year is afforded by the water- 
colour, A Gondola (collection of the Right Honourable Joseph Cham- 
berlain, M.P.). Nothing is more instructive than an examination of this 
drawing, nothing more completely proves by negative evidence where 
Walker's talent really lay, and how entirely national it was in essence. 

1 A drawing Fisherman and Boy, the outcome of his fishing experiences on the 
banks of the Spean, was exhibited in 1867. A Lady in a Garden, Perthshire, appeared 
in 1869-70. 



FRED ERICK IV A L KER 



47 



Away from the embrace of his own mother earth he lost his warmth and 
strength, he remained but coldly observant of what had often stirred in 
others a romantic passion. Here the peculiar swing and tread of the 
gondolier are accurately noted, the black and gold gondola itself is 
unexceptionably drawn and coloured, the carefully curled signora 
seen in the cool half-light of the little covered chamber is evidently a 
portrait-study. Yet how cold, how narrow and formal, how truly 
un-Venetian is the picture put together out of these elements, how 





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Mushrooms and Fungi. 



little it recalls the sweet South or gives back, that indefinable something 
which stirs the blood of the true Venice-lover ! 

The most important achievement of this year ( 1 868) is the large oil 
picture, The Vagrants, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy, and 
now hangs in the National Gallery, for which it was purchased at the 
William Graham sale. The reproduction here given renders a detailed 
description unnecessary. In a marshy landscape, sad in its loneliness, but 
beautified by its yellowing autumn tints — such a one as shelters but hardly 



48 FREDERICK JVALKER 

comforts the wanderer — these vagrants, gipsies by their picturesque type, 
but not the true dark-skinned " Egyptians," have halted for rest and re- 
freshment. Though the figures are here more happily married to the 
landscape, more inevitably a part of it, both pictorially and in mood, than 
is the case with many of the important compositions of Walker's last 
period, the faults as well as the qualities of this last period stand out here, 
already manifest. The peculiar method of elaborating not only the 
execution of a subject but its conception, of thinking the thing out as it 
were in parts, is the cause that we have here a collection of beautiful 
episodes bound together more or less in design, but not with that 
deeper, that not easily definable yet all important relation which was 
always present in Walker's earlier and less ambitious efforts. The classi- 
cality is less marked, less voulu than in The Old Gale, The Plough, The 
Harbour of Refuge, but the effort to superadd aplastic and spiritual beautv 
rather than to free it from the husk which obscures it, is still too strongly 
felt. The erect figure of the moody, handsome gipsy, lost in her musings, 
but evidently dreaming no happy daydream, is a noble conception 
nobly realised ; there is a not inappropriate grandeur, too, in the figure of 
the mother bending over her child as she sits in front of the newly lighted 
fire of twigs. If the action of the boy feeding the fire is singularly trivial 
and even false, the two children, clinging together, are thought out with 
tenderness, though with a shade of sentimentality. Still we have rather 
the elements of the picture than the picture itself; the elaboration from 
separate centres has arrested the sources of life. The finished pen-and-ink 
sketch of The Vagrants, which appeared at the exhibition of the old 
Society in 1 870-1 was apparently not a preliminary study for, but a 
reduction from the original. 

The Old Gate, which appeared at the Royal Academy in 1869, must 
count as one of the three or four representative performances in the same 
style upon which the fame of Walker is mainly built ; the others being 
The Vagrants, The Plough, and The Harbour of Refuge. 

Through the weather-worn stone gate which gives its name to the 
picture, down the long flight of steps which leads from the manor-house, 
slowly walks the pensive widow, draped rather than clad in her sable 
weeds ; a sturdy country wench has opened the gate, and, as she passes 
through, gazes up sympathetically at her. Lower down on the steps 



FREDERICK WALKER 49 

children are playing, and to the right of the picture is one of Walker's 
most characteristic groups, that of two workmen, man and boy, who, 
interrupting their walk with a respectful curiosity, await the coming 
of the widow. The man stands erect in the conscious pride of 
early manhood, wearing with the grace of untrammelled ease his suit 
of fustian ; with one hand he rests his spade on his broad shoulder, with 
the other, by a half unconscious movement happily indicated, he takes 
his pipe from his mouth. The youthful prentice workman appears 
somehow in attendance on the elder, much as the youths of the Parthenon 
Frieze are in attendance on the young warriors. 

The figures are framed in a landscape prospect which in execution is 
one of the artist's best, and what is more, delicately harmonizes with the 
pensive mood of the central figure. Most accurately observed, too, and 
finely rendered is the moss-eaten stone of the old gateway. Stately naked 
trees, such as Walker loved to depict with incisive firmness of outline 
accentuate the middle distance ; beyond stretches tranquil, in the sadness 
of late autumn, a hazy blue distance, rendered with a rare charm — one of 
the very few prospects of the kind that our painter has attempted. To 
detail is to find passages of beauty almost everywhere. Unfortunately 
the weakest point in the whole is the figure of the widow, which is self- 
conscious and sentimental beyond anything else from the same hand. The 
rosy-cheeked, vigorous, country-girl, the children at play are in themselves 
well-considered and carefully balanced. Superb in strength and rhythm 
of design, and well harmonized with that of its companion, is the figure 
of the muscular young workman — a veritable life-study although thinly 
veiled in the coarse garments of the labourer. In painting, too, it shows 
an unusual freedom and brush-power, and if isolated might count as one 
of the painter's best achievements — an example of what our neighbours in 
artistic jargon style le morceau. None the less is this fine group a false 
note in the picture. It is aggressively Pheidian in its calculated classic 
grace, it savours a mile off of Elgin Marbles and Panathenaic Frieze. 
There has been revealed to the artist, whether by intuition from within 
or by impulse from without, that in the free yet necessarily well-balanced 
and regularly repeated movements of labour lurk the elements of classic 
beauty. He determines to find them there quand meme, and not going 
the right wav about — for he cannot if he would sacrifice the tendency to 

D 



50 FREDERICK WALKER 

individualise which is the very essence of his art— he finds himself obliged 
to force the note, and to press into his work what he cannot legitimately 
evolve from it. Millet's Semeur, his Glaneuses, his Gardeuse de Dindons, 
his Bergere, are classic, if you will, inasmuch as their beauty of expres- 
sive, synthetic design is got at in much the same way as the Greeks got at 
the designs of their friezes and their vases. But the Frenchman's figures 
are not conscious of classicality, they do not appear to be deliberately 
seeking for it, as do Walker's when they are of the type that has just 
been taken as an example. And then it must be said — though the writer 
should by perpetual carping expose himself to be called after the Proto-critic 
in Goethe's Faust, " Der Geist der stets verneint "■ — -that all the component 
parts of this composition upon which the artist has lavished his skill and 
his sympathy — and the beauty of these has been freely admitted — do not 
make up a picture in the higher sense of the word. Judging the canvas 
as we must primarily from the painter's standpoint, we find that he has 
not got his subject together, that it straggles, that it does not express 
itself as a whole. Nor does it, judging from the dramatic and human 
standpoint, give the impression of la chose vecue, even transfigured in the 
golden light of art. The inevitableness of the scene, the natural cohesion 
of its parts, is not conveyed, and thus the greater part of the significance 
of the subject, whether pictorial or dramatic, is lost. One feels somehow 
that here, as in the kindred works of his maturity, Walker has not worked 
as Delacroix declared the painter should work — he has not seen his picture 
with the painter's vision complete and definite in its essential parts before 
he painted it. 

To this year, 1869, belongs one of the most elaborate of the class of 
drawings in which that well-ordered paradise, the English garden, is 
taken as the chief theme — a class of which Lilies, already described, 
is the most popular example. This is Stobhall Gardens, which 
at the great sale of Walker's water-colour drawings at Christie's 
in 1886 fetched only £567 to the ^1365 of its rival, 1 and yet 
must be allowed to take quite equal artistic rank with it, The 
warm gray stone of the old baronial mansion could not in this 
style be more finely rendered, nor the detail of all this wealth of 

1 The Street, Cookhatn, on the same occasion fetched ^903. (J. L. Roget's History of 
the Old Water Colour Society.) 



FREDERICK WALKER 51 

splendid summer blossoms be more wonderfully wrought out. As in 
Lilies the only drawback is the central figure — this time the queerly 
proportioned figure of a tall young lady seated on a knoll in the fore- 
ground near a sundial, robed in an ample velvet gown of greeny-brown 
hue. Just a breath of the later and less naive Pre-Raphaelitism seems to 
have passed over Walker here, and coloured his work, but luckily this 
influence, if it really did touch him with its wing, disappeared, leaving no 
other trace behind. Among other drawings belonging to this year are 
A Lady in a Garden, Perthshire ; and How dare you say such things to 
Jim Grandpapa (collection of Mr. John Aird, M.P.). 



CHAPTER III. 

" The Plough " — First Signs of Failing Health — " Marlozv Ferry " — Associate of the Royai 
Academy — " At the Bar " — " 'The Harbour of Refuge " — " The Fishmonger's Shop "- 
If inter in Algiers — Illness and Death — Unfinished Pictures — Etchings — Survey of his 
Work. 

At the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1870 appeared "The Plough, 
which is at once Walker's noblest and most poetic invention, and of all 
his later oil pictures the one which is the most open to criticism as regards 
its realization. The landscape is pure English, simple and unaspiring in 
character, and yet the artist has been so possessed with the mysterious, 
transforming harmonies of sunset that he succeeds in infusing into his 
scene — without meddling with its structure as a Turner would without 
hesitation have done — something of a portentous, tragic splendour. If 
only the nature-motive had been as adequately expressed as it was nobly 
conceived, if only the human motive had been more firmly based on, 
and built up out of, natural fact, we might have had here a great 
picture. The foreground is one of those clear shallow streams, with 
low banks that Walker loved to paint ; from these, and in their neigh- 
bourhood, spring here and there trees and tall shrubs, their naked 
branches outlined with a firmness and precision, with an accentuation of 
every detail that recalls Albert Diirer. In the middle distance, already 
half-veiled in the luminous half-dark of twilight, the plough advances 
slowly across the fields, with its team of grey horses, urged on, 
whip in hand, by a boy, while the ploughing husbandman follows 
at the tail. At the back rises, dyed a rosy red, a tall cliff", trenchant 
in tone against the clumps of trees that nestle for shelter into 
its hollow, against the grass with which its summit is crowned. 



FREDERICK WALKER 53 

Above it, seeming to rest on its very shoulder, rises the huge mass 
of cloud which gives the keynote to the whole picture, frowning 
a flaming purple-red in its momentary glow. The crescent moon, 
silver in a corner of grey-blue sky, modestly peeps, almost unobserved, 
over the trees. What must first be blamed here is a certain airless- 
ness in the whole. The cliff", the proper distance of which is accentuated 
by the diminutive size of the trees growing into it, has not its due 
aerial perspective ; the great cloud seems actually, and not merely 
figuratively, to rest upon it — to be not only in the same plane but ot 
the same substance. Worst of all is the much-vaunted plough itself, 
the most misdirected piece of rustic classicality to be found in any of 
the artist's works. The horses may be inspired by those of the Par- 
thenon, but they are nerveless and without movement ; the prettv boy 
Avho whips them up, and the ploughman himself may and do form 
charming lines with the team and the plough, but their movement is 
not nature, not even generalised nature with the unessential omitted. 
What we have is in the first place the attempt to emulate the rhythmic 
grace of the Greek bas-relief, and only in the second place that to 
render the true movement of man and beast in its natural beauty. 

One feels somehow that Walker has here for once had his complete 
vision of his subject — not that of the eyes only but the inner mental 
vision — yet that he has been hindered by his slow, laborious system of 
evolution and his preconceived notions as to classic harmony from giving 
it a thoroughly true and spontaneous realization. 

Is it pardonable to speculate as to what another artist would have 
done with this great motive ? George Mason had hardly either 
Walker's passion or his power of penetrating deep into a subject, 
and he would perhaps have infused into his design less tragic power, and 
have coloured it more openly and avowedly with the idyllic character. 
On the other hand he would have produced a work more homogeneous, 
more complete, and better digested from the artistic standpoint ; he would 
have seen his subject and continued to see it, as a whole predominant 
over its component parts, and not to be sacrificed to them. There would 
have been in the relation between the figures and the landscape just 
that inevitableness, that perfect balance which Walker could never quite 
command. 



54 FREDERICK WALKER 

The Plough was last seen in public at the most recent of the winter 
exhibitions at Burlington House, to which it was contributed by the 
Marquis de Misa. Next to it happened then to be placed another fine 
sunset landscape, The End of the Harvest, by a too little remembered 
Scotch artist, George Paul Chalmers, who therein showed himself much 
affected by the art of Millet and Josef Israels, but technically an accom- 
plished master, well able, though thus influenced, to stand by himself. 
Chalmers, as here revealed, had not a tithe of Walker's genius or his 
strength of artistic individuality, yet in some respects The Plough would 
not bear comparison with his picture. A prolonged contemplation would 
and did show that the one was the work of an admirably skilled and 
sympathetic adapter rather than of an original painter ; that the other 
was the work of a man of original genius still struggling for perfect 
command over his material, and hampered by his very style and method 
in the expression of a great moment in nature such as this which he 
had divined and sought to make his own. Still the lesser performance 
maintained a certain superiority over its more celebrated neighbour 
because it had the true painter's quality, because it was a complete 
picture of its kind, a complete though a reticent pictorial expression of 
its theme as its author understood it. 

There exists a reduced version of The Plough in oil on panel, 
described as a finished study for the larger picture. Judging, however, 
both from the style of the panel itself and from Walker's system in 
such matters, it might more properly be put down as a finished reduction 
from the picture. Thus a pen-and-ink reduction of The Vagrants (1868) 
appeared at the Old Water-Colour Society in 1 870 ; a water-colour version 
of the Harbour of Refuge (1872) at the same place in 1873-74 ; and a 
like version of The Old Gate (1869) in 1875. 

A letter addressed in the May of this year to an appreciative friend 
who had written to congratulate Walker on the success of The Plough 
at the Academy, is worth mentioning as showing at once the sen- 
sitiveness and the perfect simplicity of the young painter. He writes : 
" I assure you I have a very keen desire for such spontaneous praise, 
especially from those whose taste I know to be good and pure. I 
can only say I am seriously glad that you admire my picture." He 
goes on to say that he is leaving for Venice next week, and that (first 



FREDERICK WALKER 55 

ominous sign of what was to overtake him a few years later) he has 
had a succession of colds, for which he feels that complete change is the 
best cure. He appears, at the time, to have had plans for seriously 
working while at Venice, and for returning to his work in the following 
autumn ; but there is nothing to show that these plans were carried out, 
almost the only trace of this second visit being a slight sketch of the 
house in which he lived in the City of the Lagunes, with Mr. W. Q. 
Orchardson (then A.R.A) at the window. This was shown at the 
Memorial Exhibition in 1876, and again at Messrs. Dunthorne's in 
1885. 

Marlow Ferry, one of the most popular and one of the most beautiful 
of Walker's water-colours, was exhibited in 1870 at the Old Society's 
summer exhibition. Here the ferry-boat, rowed by a fair, sun-browned 
youth, who is just shipping his oars, is seen approaching the landing- 
place with its passenger ; on the banks are figures of villagers and 
children feeding swans, and in one corner a group of lazy river-side 
gossips done to the life. The flesh-tints are the too hot and brown ones 
which Walker affects, the harmony, with its dominant note given by the 
red-brick houses, tawny in excess ; but with his faults we have his exquisite 
charm of delicately detailed draughtsmanship, of perfect sympathy for his 
subject. Here, too, he is quite English and entirely himself, dropping 
that striving after Attic grace of line and movement which, in the 
opinion of the writer, never sits quite easily upon him or becomes an 
inherent part of his subject. 

A quaint drawing, which was sent to the winter exhibition of the 
Water Colour Society in 1870 1, showed, with a trace of quiet humour 
such as on rare occasions crept in to the artist's serious productions, a 
coachman in a kitchen-garden cutting cabbages, and was entitled The 
Amateur. It re-appeared at Burlington House in 1891 under the title 
Coachman and Cabbage. 

There was a technical obstacle to Walker's being elected an Associate 
ot the Royal Academy, seeing that he had previously become a member of 
the Royal Water Colour Society. In the original statutes of the 
Academy was included a provision to the effect that no member of any other 
Society having the same or similar objects should be eligible for election — 
this being a bye-law aimed doubtless at that supplanted rival, the 



56 FREDERICK WALKER 

Incorporated Society of British Artists. This rule was, however relaxed, 
in favour of Sir John Gilbert, upon whom the Associateship was 
conferred, when in 1871, he received the honour of Knighthood, as 
President of the Royal Water Colour Society, and advantage was taken 
of this opportunity to confer the like distinction upon Walker, who thus 
made his first appearance as A.R.A. at the exhibition of 1871. 

On this occasion he brought forward At the Bar, an important if not 
a wholly successful effort to take new ground, or rather to return with 
added experience to the class of production to which his first venture, 
The Lost Path, belongs. It is somewhat difficult to speak of this 
unusual work now, since it no longer exists in its integrity. It is one of 
the very few extant attempts by Walker to deal with the human form on 
the scale of life, and as such it must be judged with all the allowances 
due to an experiment. From the Rembrandtesque gloom which enwraps 
the greater part of the canvas emerges the full-length figure of a woman 
still young in years, who in agonised suspense and bewilderment stands 
forth in the dock of a criminal court, in the presence of judges all 
but invisible to the beholder. A lurid light is concentrated on the 
wretched prisoner, now evidently at the turning point of her fate, and 
the only other human being allowed to be clearly visible is a warder, 
whose head appears at the foot of the picture. It was a happy idea to 
adopt the Rembrandtesque method in order to give force and unity to a 
scene of outward gloom and inward distress, and in the painter's con- 
ception he has avoided the dangerous rock of melodrama and reached 
true tragedy. A lack of breadth and solidity, such as might have been 
looked for under the circumstances, detracts, however, from the power of 
the work and gives to it, even apart from the injury to which reference 
will presently be made, something of a tentative and uncertain character — 
the appearance of a sketch on a large scale rather than a picture. Mr. 
Corny ns Carr speaking of the picture as then exhibited, describes with 
unstinted praise the tragic expression of the woman's face — her "desperate 
and hunted aspect." We know, however, that Walker, made extra-sensitive 
by criticism, which he could at no period bear with equanimity, and 
himself dissatisfied with what was intended to be the keynote of the 
whole — the climax to attain which all else was sacrificed or subordinated 
- — scraped out the face, when he got the canvas back from the Academy, 



FREDERICK WALKER si 

with the intention of repainting it. This intention he, at any rate, never 
carried into effect, for At the Bar remained in this incomplete state 
at his death four years after, and was almost the only one of his 
important works not included in the Memorial Exhibition of 1876. It 
is an open secret that the head, as it now appears, was at the special 
request of the deceased painter's representatives, painted in by Mr. R. 
W. Macbeth, A.R.A. 

It may be assumed that it is this, the most important version of the 
picture, which has this year reappeared in public, at the very interesting 
exhibition of Walker's works in oils, water-colours, and black-and-white, 
organized by the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. The head in 
this example has a certain glassiness of texture, and although in it the 
beauty of the painter's conception is still to be divined, it cannot be said, 
as it now is, to deserve Mr. Carr's encomiums. The appearance of the 
picture thus confirms the truth of the assertion that it was repainted 
after the artist's death as has been stated ; and, indeed, among his 
friends and those who know most about him and his art this is not 
denied. This being the case, it is somewhat surprising that when the 
present owner, Professor Silvanus P. Thompson, lent the picture to the 
Birmingham Society, no statement should have been made in the cata- 
logue as to the dual authorship. A finished study in oils on canvas was 
exhibited at the Dudley Gallery in 1872, but this cannot well have been 
the version seen at Birmingham, the dimensions of which would appear to 
coincide with those of the original. Almost the only point in At the 
Bar, which recalls the Walker of the later years, the painter of rustic 
life set in landscape, is the pose of the woman's figure, which has in it 
something of studied elegance, of well-ordered design, which one would 
be more prompt to admire did it not too much appear as if introduced 
rather than observed. What is gained in harmony is lost in tragic 
intensity and significance. 

Among the water-colour drawings exhibited in 1871 may be noted 
A Girl at a Stile ; "The Housewife, showing a woman seated in a court- 
yard shelling peas ; and The Old Farm Garden. This last is one of the 
English garden subjects, to which the painter knew how to impart so 
much charm, but hardly one of the best. 

To the year 1872 belongs The Harbour of Refuge, which is perhaps 



58 FREDERICK WALKER 

the most widely appreciated of all Walker's works, and certainly contains- 
the very essence of his latest style, with all its beauties and most of its 
defects. Nothing could well be lovelier than the mise-en-scene he has 
chosen to enframe his figures, this red-brick, purple-toned quadrangle of 
buildings, 1 with the finely-placed and finely-composed statue on its 
pedestal in the middle of the greensward made bright with star-like 
blossoms, with its flowering may-tree, only less beautiful than the one 
in The first Swallow. True, the apricot sky makes as usual with 
the brown flesh tones and the broken reds of the buildings a harmony 
too hot in its richness ; but the combinations are in their way exquisite 
all the same. Most skilful use is made of different tints of blue, from 
deep rich indigo to a shade which is nearly grey, in relieving somewhat 
this over-richness. Nowhere has Walker lavished a greater skill on the 
painting of detail, or given a more jewel-like quality to his work, than 
in certain passages here ; and yet there are many signs of a broadening 
of technique such as is not to be traced in earlier examples. 

To judge firstly the pictorial, and secondly the human significance of 
The Harbour of Refuge, one must analyse it into its component parts, since 
it lacks unity not less of general impression than of composition. Not 
that the absence of a definite subject of the sentimental and anecdotic type 
is to be blamed ; on the contrary, this is to be counted here and elsewhere 
as one of Walker's greatest merits. It is that his peculiar system of 
elaboration from several distinct centres renders his work difficult to take 
into the eye or the mind as whole, and appreciably best by passing from 
one to another of its motives. The best episode in the picture is the 
pathetically suggestive central group gathered round the statue in the 
centre of the quadrangle — that of the shipwrecked of life, anchored at 
last in a safe harbour after many storms. To the right we have the well- 
known figure of the mower, more classical still than the fustian-clad divinity 
of the Old Gate, and more self-conscious in its measured grace. To the 
left, slowly moving along the stone terrace, from which descends a flight 
of steps is a group more admired still, that of the sturdy, red-haired lass 
who, dreaming as she walks, supports on her strong young arm a poor 
old dame, sans eyes, sans teeth, sans everything : on the one hand dreams 
of the future, on the other dreams of the past. Here, as in the case of 

1 Studied from the Fishmongers' Almshouses at Bray. 



f.KER 

all Walfo irks, and certain! 

st style, with all its beauties and most or 
uld well be lovelier than the mise-en-scene h< 
is figures, this red-brick, purple-toned quadra I 
buildi the finely-placed and finely-composed statue 

P c : middle of the greensward made bright with St: 

ith its flowering may-tree, only less beautiful than the 
in The first Swallow. True, the apricot sky makes as usual 
th i flesh tones and the broken reds of the buildings a harmom 

t in its richness ; but the combinations n their way exquisi 

the same. Most skilful use is made of different tints of blue, fr< 
P rich indigo to a shade which is nearly grey, in relieving som 
this over-richness. Nowhere has Walker lavished a greater skill , 

linting of detail, or given a more jewel-like quality to his work, th 
in certain passages here ; and yet there are many signs of a broaden: 
oft [ue such mples. 

ifii 

it la 
that 
is to be blamed; on the contra,- 

■ne of Walker's greatest merits. It is that his pecitfai 
-ration from several distinct centres renders his work difficult to 
' he eye or the mind as whole, and appreciably best by passing fi 
■ to another of its motives. The best episode in the picture 
ally suggestive central group gathered round the statu* 
f the quadrangle— that of the shipwrecked of life, anch 

■ harbour after man;., e have the weil- 

rhe mower, more cla .ian-clad divinity 

of th Gate, and more self-conscious in grace. To the 

left > ! 'mg along the stone terrace, : 

of stt: up more admired still, that, of the sturdy, 

who, dream; . she walks, supports on h 

oft dame, sa> > teeth, sans everything ; 01 

of the future. ams G f the past. Here, as in the case of 

Stu Mil at Bray. 






FREDERICK WALKER 59 

the splendid young mower, the contrast between youth and age is moving 
enough, but too deliberate, too much forced upon the beholder, to attain 
its full effect. The composition is straggling and episodic ; it lacks con- 
centration both of line and motive, and as in '■The Vagrants, and The 
Old Gate, we have rather beautiful elements of a picture than a 
picture. We may each of us pick out our favourite figure, our favourite 
passage of lovely detail or colour, and from no part is beauty absent ; but 
we cannot, without preliminary study, take in the impression of the 
picture as a whole, because it is not seen or felt as a whole. 

The Harbour of Refuge is now, through the munificence of Mr. 
William Agnew, the property of the nation. Its present place is on a 
screen in the Turner Room, where it is crushed by its mighty surround- 
ings — those canvases so tremendous in power, even when they are mighty 
mistakes. A finished replica, executed on a smaller scale in water-colours 
(collection of Mr. Humphrey Roberts) appeared at the exhibition of the 
Old Society in 1873-4. It is perhaps in some respects an improvement 
on the original, of which it retains the beauties unimpaired, while reduction 
of size gives greater concentration. The movement of the mower — but 
this may be fancy — appears in this version rather truer to nature. This last 
was in the group of water-colours by Walker shown at Burlington House 
in the winter of 1891, on which occasion it was, for not obvious reasons, 
re-christened The Vale of Rest. There exists an unfinished design for 
the Harbour of Refuge, which was No. 149 in the Memorial Exhibition 
of 1876, and also, in the collection of Mr. Somerset Beaumont, a repetition 
of the two figures on the terrace — the young girl supporting the aged 
woman — this being one of the last works upon which the painter was 
engaged. 

To 1872 belongs also The Escape, which is the working-out in water- 
colours of a drawing done for Once a Week in 1862. This may be re- 
garded as the precursor of the unfinished design, The Unknozvn Land, 
the two versions of which will be referred to a little later on. 

In the winter exhibition of the Old Society of 1872-3 appeared The 
Fishmonger s Shop, which many connoisseurs have held to be our painter's 
finest achievement in water-colour. Daring and splendid in the harmony of 
its tints, so finely balanced as to produce that unity of tone most difficult 
to compass with contrasting hues of a frank brilliancy, it is nevertheless 



6o 



FREDERICK WALKER 



more of an amusing, richly-tinted object-study than a picture in the truest 
sense of the word. The group which is the centre of the colour-harmony, 




The Fishmonger. 



the blue-aproned, rosy-cheeked fishmonger who bends forward across 
the marble slab as he offers his fish to a gaily dressed damsel in the habit 
of about 1800, though it is well enough placed in the brilliant ensemble, 



FREDERICK WALKER 61 

lacks vitality and significance. The tour de force lies in the happy com- 
bination of the bright green woodwork which frames the shop with the 
blue-green and the red of the sparkling fish, with the indigo blue of the 
jolly salesman's apron, and the yellow and tawny of the girl's pretty, old- 
fashioned costume, relieved by the coral pink ribbon in her hat. This is 
undoubtedly a brilliant performance of its kind, a nearer approach to the 
bravura of the purely technical exercise than anything Walker has pro- 
duced. Yet it is difficult to understand on what grounds Professor 
Hubert Herkomer, R.A., is entitled to speak of it, as he is reported to 
have done recently in an address delivered at the opening of the Birming- 
ham Walker Exhibition, as marking the climax of modern English 
water-colour. To accord such a place to it is surely to take a strange 
view of the past as well as the present of that most national branch of 
English art. Walker repeated the Fishmonger s Shop on a smaller scale 
in a drawing which was not publicly exhibited duting his lifetime, but 
was No. 9 in the Memorial Exhibition of 1876. 

This year, 1872, marked the climax of our artist's achievement. 
He had inherited a tendency to pulmonary disease, and just now when 
his talent was still rapidly developing itself and his technical powers had 
matured to a point higher than they had yet reached, his health began 
seriously to decline. In 1872-73 (or was it 1873-74?) he took refuge 
from the severities of a northern winter in Algiers, but became restless at 
his severance from art and friends, and lost whatever benefit he might 
have derived from the African sunshine by his return to brave the cold 
winds of March. Like Bastien-Lepage, who fled thither a few years 
later in the vain struggle with disease, he does not appear to have been 
deeply impressed — at any rate artistically impressed — with the splendours 
of the North African coast. There is nothing to show that, like his 
friend and brother in art, Mr. J. W. North, he took to the Algerian 
scenery, or seriously sought to interpret its peculiar charm. We know 
that for him even Scotland appeared too vast and too scenic ; that the 
homelier beauties of the Thames Valley, the English scenes and the 
English life had his heart. 

Walker was unable to contribute anything to the Royal Academy 
exhibitions of 1873 and 1874, and sent the Water Colour Society in the 
summer of the former year only The Village, the chief motive of which 



62 FREDERICK WALKER 

is a red-brick bridge with little knots of country people on and about it. 
Marked by even more than the painter's usual truthfulness and exquisite- 
ness of detail, this is slightly more prosaic and topographical in its careful 
finish than other similar productions. The smaller Harbour of Refuge 
was in the same place at the winter exhibition of 1873-4, Dut ne was 
unrepresented at the summer exhibition of 1874, while at the winter one 
of 1874-5 only '•The Rainbow, an interior with two girls looking out 
of the window, reminded the public of their favourite. 

Things were rapidly going from bad to worse with poor Walker, 
and it is pretty evident that, seeing how strong was the predisposition 
of his family to phthisis, he must have felt himself to be in a grave 
condition. There is reason to believe, however, that the doctors fearing 
that his intense nervousness might precipitate the catastrophe, spared 
him the knowledge that the danger was imminent. Thus, if Walker 
exposed himself more than under the circumstances he ought to have 
done, he was, it may be hoped, spared the worst of all griefs to the 
man in whom sickness has not extinguished youth and genius — that of 
seeing himself slowly die and feeling that he died with his work only half 
done, with his ideal only half expressed, with potentialities within him of 
far nobler things than had yet been achieved. It was thus that Bastien- 
Lepage died inch by inch, after a manful hand-to-hand struggle with the 
grim enemy, and with him the agony of the light prematurely quenched, 
of the hand no longer nerved to express what the brain conceived, was far 
worse than the physical suffering of dissolution. On the 23rd of July of 
this year 1 Walker wrote to S. P. Jackson, who had offered to help 
him as to lodgings : " I fear I must give up the notion of being 
at the Thames' side this season, for since I wrote to Leslie on the 
subject I have had a letter from my doctor, who thinks I ought for 
this season to avoid the Thames as ' lowering ' and ' relaxing ' com- 
pared with certain spots I have mentioned to him as good from an artistic 
point of view — and as there is some chance of my going to Scotland a 
little later, perhaps it is better for me to give up the notion." 

To the Royal Academy he sent in 1875 nis ^ na ' contribution, The 
Right of Way, which cannot be classed among his most successful efforts. 
It depicts a meadow with a winding stream, in the foreground of which 
1 J. L. Roget's History of the Old Water Colour Society. 







IS 



6 4 FREDERICK IVALKER 

are two figures — a woman carrying a basket of eggs, and a little boy 
who, frightened at the advance of an ewe, clings to her skirts for pro- 
tection. 

While this picture was yet hanging on the walls came, with terrible 
suddenness, the news of the painter's death. He had gone to Scotland, 
to indulge once more in the sport which he so passionately loved, had 
been seized with a violent cold, which aggravated the most fatal symptoms 
of his disease, and succumbed after a very few days' illness at St. Fillans, 
Perthshire, on the 4th or 5th of June, 1875. He was buried at Cook- 
ham, his favourite Thames-side resort, beside his mother and a brother 
who had fallen a victim before him to the same fell disease. A memorial 
tablet with a medallion portrait carved in low relief by Mr. H. A. 
Armstead, R.A., was afterwards placed in Cookham Church by the 
painter's friends and admirers. 

Among the unfinished works left behind was one canvas of import- 
ance, so far advanced towards completion that it has been exhibited on 
more than one occasion since the artist's death. This is called Sunny 
'Thames, and now temporarily hangs in the picture gallery of the 
Guildhall, to which it has been contributed by Sir Charles Tennant. A 
little company of youthful rustics is seen fronting the spectator on a 
high bank by the river ; one of them, a boy bigger than the others, sits 
on the edge fishing, his bare legs dangling over the rich red earth, over- 
grown with wildflowers and weeds. This figure is in itself, like so many 
of Walker's single figures, a noble design, but the picture as a whole 
is, perhaps on account of its unfinished state, unpleasantly hot and 
" foxy " in colour. It compares unfavourably with the much smaller 
rendering of a similar subject by George Mason, known as Young 
Anglers, and last seen at the winter exhibition of the Royal Academy 
of 1893-4. Here the bright grey sky, the pale waters, the landscape, 
the little fisher-folk seem all to fit naturally into one undivided and 
indivisible whole, which is just what the component parts of Walker's 
pictures so rarely do. 

A peculiar interest, a peculiar pathos, attach to one composition, 
An Unknown hand, of which two quite distinct versions, both of them 
still in the stage of the preparatory sketch, were found with the ill-fated 
painter's artistic remains. It is hard to resist the conviction that here 



an • ir ^ &£• 











* 




•5? 



b-i 



66 FREDERICK WALKER 

solemn thoughts prompted Walker to revive an earlier design, already 
twice seen in progressive stages of development. For once he not only 
develops, but altogether widens and transfigures his invention. In the 
first of the two unfinished designs the boat of the explorers, who have 
reached the unknown shore, is being hauled on to the beach by 
statuesque, semi-real youths, such as he loved to depict, in a light which 
may be that of sunrise or sunset, but in its rainbow-hued changefulness 
is more like the latter. In the second and finer design — that belonging 
to Mr. H. R. Robertson — Walker allows himself to float away from 
and above the reality on which he has hitherto based all his pictorial 
inventions. There is something of the poet-painter's radiant vision, 
of the mystery and vastness of the unknown, in this bold powerful group, 
forcefully outlined against the blazing orb which rises, huge and awful, 
from the bosom of the sea, filling all space with its rays. 

Walker etched a few plates which did not appear during his lifetime, 
but were after his death purchased and brought out in a complete set of 
six by the well-known print-publisher, Mrs. J. Noseda, of 109, Strand. 
The first of these were necessarily of a tentative kind, but in the later 
numbers of the short series which represents all that he had leisure to 
produce the progress in technique is very marked, and it is made clear 
that with more practice he might have commanded a considerable success 
in this side branch of his art. The etchings are published without any 
titles, so that by way of identification one has to make these for ones self. 
The first and most tentative of the set shows a girl shelling peas in the 
back-yard of a London house. The artist himself called it, we are told, 
after the huge butt which is a prominent and unlovely feature of the 
whole, Mrs. Collins ' s Waterbutt. This plate he took to his friend Mr. 
J P. Heseltine, of Queen's Gate — the noted collector whose name there 
has been occasion to mention more than once already in the course of 
these remarks — and they bit it together. The result was not very 
successful, but it was the etcher's first attempt, and he was not then 
familiar with the small technical difficulties which nothing but experi- 
ence can overcome. The second in order of date of the set we may guess 
by its stiffness to be the Little Girl Eating Porridge, a design more or 
less in the style of William Hunt. His own portrait, an etching which 
was never carried beyond the head, shows him with hair picturesquely 




• &-0 



<} 



b-. 



FREDERICK WALKER 69 

dishevelled — a typically Bohemian apparition. An unfinished study, more 
delicate and reticent than strong, has as its motive an old couple of 
primitive aspect seated in a kitchen — she working apparently at a stock- 
ing, he with a clay-pipe in his hand, and a beer mug at his side. Then 
we have a preliminary study, principally in dry-point, for the old man in 
The Wayfarers. Last, and best by far, comes The Wayfarers itself, that 
splendid piece of incisive realism to which reference has already been 
made in discussing the picture of the same name. The execution of 
the plate shows the artist very far on the way to high accomplishment as 
an etcher. For truth and power of suggestion these two figures are at 
least as fine as anything of the kind Walker has done, although they may 
not be acceptable to those who prefer 
the milder and less boldly characterized \,C-'' 
version of the oil-painting. ■%•)'■ 

Not much has been said in the /.V\ 

course of these remarks about Walker 
the man, and that for many reasons. In 
the first place his life was not, as re- 




gards its outward landmarks, an event- w 



tul one. Like that of so many artists 
of genius and ardent endeavour it was Portrait 0/ the Artist. 

swallowed up in his life-work, and had 

no independent course. Still, while nothing is more unsafe than to 
draw rule-of-three inferences from a man to his work, and vice versa, 
it is always interesting to study the artistic temperament — to note 
where it is at one with, where it diverges from the human personality. 
In England we are wont to exercise a certain reticence in such matters, 
and to refrain for a long space of time from lifting the innermost 
curtain which veils the private life of those whose works have made 
them in a sense public property. In France the biographer is franker, 
or more indiscreet if we like to call it so ; and the result is that we get 
a more complete picture of the man, with those strongly marked lights 
and shades which naturally go to make up the figure of the creative 
artist. Thus not only the life but often the art is made more clear 
to such students as are not content with the mere surfaces of things. 
It must be left to those who knew Frederick Walker, who were bound 



70 FREDERICK WALKER 

to him by bonds of friendship or family ties, to tell, if they can, the story 
of his all too short life, and fill up the outlines of the character to which 
not even his most intimate friends were sure that they possessed the key. 
It has been seen that from the very start he was nervous, feverish, 
excitable, of a physical temperament which is best described by the 
adjective maladif, while he remained, even to those brother artists to whom 
he gave his friendship and confidence, almost impenetrable on all subjects 
connected with his art. Not only did he never formulate or dogmatize, 
but he hardly ever even stated a point of view in words, or underlined a 
preference. The curious thing was that this physical unhealthiness never 
coloured his art, as physical disease has been known to do in the case of 
more than one great artist who could be named. All it did was to 
impart to it a more tremulous sympathy, a more regretful tenderness. It 
is easy to understand how, to a nature such as his, criticism — to which, 
indeed, the painter rarely, if ever, submits with the good grace which in 
the man of letters so often disarms antagonism — should have been 
intolerable. Even his most intimate friends, when they visited his studio, 
were not allowed to see the unfinished canvas; the easel was hastily 
wheeled round with its face to the wall ! Perhaps, seeing what Walker's 
temperament was, he chose, in so doing, the wisest course. Mr. Comyns 
Carr has well said on this point: "With a nature so keenly sensitive his 
own criticism of himself was perhaps all he could endure. The advice 
of others, however well intended, would only have had the effect of 
paralysing his efforts." That this was indeed the case is best shown by 
the fact that adverse criticism induced him to obliterate in At the Bar 
what has been described by those who remember it, as " one of his most 
singular and exceptional efforts," and that he seems, if we may judge 
from the result, to have distrusted his power to improve upon what 
he had destroyed. 

Mr. Hodgson, R.A., in An Artist's Holidays} has given a vivid picture 
of his laborious method of conceiving and working out a first sketch : — 
' Never did artist groan as he did in the throes of production. It was 
painful to see him ; he would sit for hours over a sheet of paper, biting 
his nails, of which there was very little left on either hand ; his brows 
would knit, and the muscles of his jaw, which was square and prominent, 
1 Magazine of Art, September, 1889, pp. 388, 389. 



FREDERICK WALKER 71 

would twitch convulsively like one in pain. And at the end all that 
could be discerned were a few faint pencil scratches, the dim outline of a 
female figure perhaps, but beautiful as a dream, full of grace, loveliness, 
and vitality. A few scratches would indicate a background which 
seemed a revelation, so completely was it the appropriate setting to 
the figure." 

Mr. Hodgson gives us in this same paper a fearless and searching 
criticism of Walker the man, the most complete in its sharp outline that 
we at present possess, though it errs, perhaps, in the failure to perceive that 
mind and body cannot in summing up, as he does, be dissociated. The 
irritating traits so vividly noted being manifestly but an outcome of the 
terrible disease which, as the writer himself records, from the first held 
Walker in its grip, should not have disentitled the man to one jot 
of the sympathy which is so generously accorded to the artist. 

It is necessary to quote further from this firmly sketched portrait ; for 
the De mortuis is surely not applicable to men of Walker's stamp, but 
only to the smaller fry, in respect of whom British reticence and 
decorousness enjoin that an even balance should be struck : — 

" Everything about him betokened an early death, not because he 
was frail and delicate, for frail and delicate men sometimes drag out 
the thread of life to great lengths, nor, as in the case of his host (Richard 
Ansdell, R.A.), was he in any danger from over-industry and application. 
His mind was not very cultivated ; he was inarticulate, and his 
conversation gave no idea of his powers. His intellect, I should opine, 
was of rather a slow and lethargic cast. . . . There was a taint of 
hereditary disease in his blood, and its development was no doubt hastened 
by an abnormally irritable and sensitive nervous system. There was a 
strong tie of friendship between Ansdell and him, and nothing could 
be stranger than the contrast between them ; the one a man of iron nerve, 
whom no fatigue, no misfortune or annovance could perturb — proud, 
resolute, and self-relying ; the other blown about by every wind, child- 
ishly elated at one moment, depressed almost to despair at the next. . . . 
When annoyed even by trifles, he was beside himself. He had a passion 
for telegraphing ; when the fit was on him he would send off messages 
at intervals all day. It was terrible to hear him complain of the injustice 
and ill-treatment of which he supposed himself a victim, quite unreason- 



72 FREDERICK WALKER 

ably as it appeared to me, as the world seems to have agreed to treat him 
indulgently, as a delicate and spoiled child of genius. He was passion- 
ately fond of fishing, and seems rarely to have touched a pencil when 
away from home for a holiday. ... In speaking of painting, he once 
said that ' Composition is the art of preserving the accidental look,' 
which is as good as anything that has been said on the subject. He had 
splendid gifts ; but some malignant fairy, some disappointed godmother 
at his baptism, must have filched away the most essential concomitant, 
without which even happiness seems impossible, the gift of a placid mind, 
and that equipoise of faculties which leaves the mind serene and im- 
perturbable." 

It is necessary to say a word or two more about Walker's relation, 
or supposed relation, to two contemporary Englishmen whose names 
have often been bracketed with his. In the course of these remarks the 
art of George Mason has already been discussed, and such a discussion is 
indeed inevitable when it is sought to give a picture of Walker and his 
time. While it would undoubtedly be wrong to assume an intimate 
artistic connection between the two men, or a leaning of one on the 
other, it is an over-statement of the true position to assert that the 
apparent relation between them is only a superficial one, depending 
upon their choice of subjects — upon their predilection for rustic figures 
of our own time, framed in landscape having more than a casual and 
exterior relation to those figures. The real link between Mason and 
Walker is that both saw the truth that harmony, grace, rhythm — the 
elements of style — might be revealed where they lay half hidden in the 
everyday subjects of to-day, and that without undue falsification in dis- 
tortion ; that the inherent pathos of life and of nature is not best 
expressed by pictorial anecdote or by a cheap sentimentality. 

Whence each derived impulse and vivifying power must remain a point 
for inference rather than assertion. An effort has here been made to show 
what fired the train in Walker's case. The genesis of Mason's art is 
clearer, since we must take into account his long residence abroad, and 
the influence which Sigr. Costa cast over him on the one hand, and — as 
we do not know for a fact, yet must necessarily infer — M. Jules Breton 
on the other. It may be that the artistic passion glowed with less 
intensity in Mason than in Walker, that his genius was of a less original, 



FREDERICK tVALKER 



73 



a less national, type ; but he was certainly the more complete, the more 
perfectly balanced artist of the two. His aim was — like that of Millet 




Boy Looking at a Dead Bird. 



himself, with whom he had otherwise little or nothing in common— to 
see men and things in a large synthetic way, to express the beauty and 
harmony of the type, not the individual ; to marry the human element 



74 FREDERICK WALKER 

to the environing landscape so that the one cannot be conceived of with- 
out the other. Making the necessary sacrifices, and going perhaps too 
far — seeing what were his subjects — in the direction of elegiac grace and 
the suggestion of linked and balanced movement, he expressed his idea 
to the utmost, as Walker, torn by the two conflicting currents of his 
nature and his will, was never able to do. We may find passages in The 
Plough, The Old Gate, The Harbour of Refuge, that move us more deeply, 
that have a more penetrating, a more intimate charm than anything in 
The Evening Hymn, The Harvest Moon, or An English Pastoral. We 
may note in Walker's work wonders of delicate execution such as Mason 
did not attempt ; but as works of art, as things of absolute accomplish- 
ment in their own particular way, Mason's best productions must take 
precedence of Walker's. 

It is well known that personal sympathy, as well as a certain com- 
munity of aim in art, closely united Walker to another contemporary, 
Mr. J. W. North, A.R.A. It has even been said by those well qualified 
to speak on the point, that after Walker had become acquainted with 
Mr. North, his colour became less chalky, more various and richer, his 
landscape " took a deeper, richer glow in the shadows, as if in the twilight 
they exhaled the heat of the long summer day." This might well be 
so, since the relation between the landscape of the two artists is manifest 
even to those who have never heard of their personal connection. On 
the other hand, we have seen how self-centred Walker was, no less in 
art than in life ; that he was open on occasion to impulse from without, 
but much less easily to an influence affecting the minutiae of technique. 
There are no such startling breaks or leaps in the evolution of his land- 
scape as absolutely to preclude us from assuming that it was self-de- 
veloped ; so that its exact relation to Mr. North's must remain a point to be 
decided by individual appreciation, unless further and more direct evidence 
be brought to bear upon it by those near to the sources of information. 
It was a happy inspiration of the Royal Society of Birmingham Artists 
to juxtapose in their recent exhibition the works of the two painters. 
While the undefined relation between them was affirmed, it was made ad- 
ditionally clear that Walker, whatever he may have owed to his friend 
and companion in art, ended by overshadowing him on his own ground. 
The strength, the definiteness of Walker's draughtsmanship, the firmness 



FREDERICK WALKER 75 

and beauty of his patient yet never trivial execution, caused Mr. North's 
landscapes, with all the over-subtlety of their loving elaboration, with 
all the charm of their tangled luxuriance, to look a little pale and 
ineffectual. 

Mr. Hodgson, elsewhere in the sketch from which so much has already 
been quoted, thus praises the painter : — " To Walker we may truly apply 
Charles Lamb's words, ' Upon him his subject has so acted that it has 
seemed to direct him, not to be arranged by him.' He had the divine 
faculty of inward sight ; his vision was slow to obey the summons, he 
had to perform many exorcisms and incantations, but it arose at last, and 
once there he held it fast." 

This is high praise indeed, and fully deserved by the earlier, if not 
wholly by the more mature works of the artist. The Walker of The 
Lost Path, of Philip in Church, of The First Swallow, even up to a certain 
point the Walker of The Bathers, was so acted upon as to be directed by 
his subject. The Walker of the works by which his highest fame has 
been won, of The Vagrants, The Old Gate, The Plough, The Harbour of 
Refuge, was acted upon by conflicting influences, and finally drawn to 
adopt or rather to form a style which was not, in the opinion of the 
writer, that in which his genius could find the freest and truest expression. 
It matters little, after all, whence came the spark which set alight again 
his dormant love of Greek art, with its essential characteristics of 
synthetic simplicity and idealised truth. On the one hand, his blood 
was fired with the desire to evoke, to lay bare, the hidden classicality in 
nature, on the other the very minuteness of the gaze which he lovingly 
fixed upon humanity and nature rendered him incapable of the sacrifices 
necessary to the attainment of the classic ideal. He must perforce dwell 
on every lineament of the human face, on the individual man, not on 
man the type or the class. He loved every blossom, every leaf, every 
branch, every meadow, every eddy of the stream, every turn of the road, 
every moss-grown stone and purple-red tile of the house ; from nothing 
beautiful under the heavens could he bring himself to part. Necessarily 
he thus sacrificed much ; putting force and unity of impression, largeness 
and simplicity of intention and execution, truth of atmospheric envelop- 
ment, into the background, and preferring to them exquisiteness of local 
truth and wealth of isolated and highly developed motives. Thus, when 



76 



FREDERICK IVALKER 



he willed to be Greek q it and menu in depicting English rustic life, 
and yet to remain realistic and truthful, he was manifestly, with his 
individuality, and with his artistic equipment, striving for the impossible. 
Unconsciously he was induced to force into, instead of evolving from, his 
rustic figures a classicality, a rhythmic grace, which might well lurk in 




Of, 



Flower. 



them, but which the portraitist of the individual did not and could not 
go the right way about to lay bare. 

It was otherwise with Jean-Francois Millet, whose name naturally 
presents itself in this connection. It is by a legitimate process of 
synthesis, such as the Greeks themselves adopted, by stripping off the 
outer husks of men and things, bv effacing the individual and leaving 
only the general and typical, that he arrived at a true classicality more 



FREDERICK WALKER 77 

nearly akin to the Greek spirit than anything that modern art can show. 
His peasants are not the " ambitieux " that Delacroix called them, 
because they are unconscious that they represent more than The Sower, 
"The Gleaners, The Man with the Hoe, The Shepherdess Tending her Sheep, 
The Washer-lVoman, The Slayers of Swine. Still, they are not only 
magnificent pictures of the things for which they primarily stand — 
pictures in which the higher and more typical truth is secured by the 
sacrifice of the lower — but they are the noblest representations of 
humanity in its struggle with Nature — mother or step-mother. Who 
shall quarrel with Millet if his Man with the Hoe typifies all labour 
with its never-ending outlook ; if his Mother watching her Child is all 
maternity with its untiring solicitude ? Who shall complain if on 
many another canvas that could be named, he shows — as the painter, not 
the lyrist or the argumentative man of letters — the indefinable links 
between man, the higher, nobler animal, but still the animal, and the 
patient beasts of burden of whom he is one — between man and the earth, 
which is to conquer and cover him at last ? 

It may well be doubted, as those who know Walker best have 
doubted, whether, with the peculiar artistic temperament, with the 
peculiar quality of artistic vision which marked all that he produced, he 
would ever have acquired the unity of style, the power of selection, 
the breadth of view necessary to give full value to the subjects he 
affected, if they are to be interpreted in the manner in which he in his 
later style strove to interpret them. It is probable that throughout he 
would have remained the portraitist of nature and of man — the rare and 
tender portraitist, it is true, prompt to divine the least obvious beauties 
of what he saw, but still the portraitist. This being so, and his very 
nature in its essence rendering it impossible that he should renounce the 
presentment of the individual so as to attain to the presentment of the 
type, it is not easy to divine how the vain struggle to reconcile two ten- 
dencies absolutely antithetical would have ended. Would Walker have 
persevered in the path upon which he had entered, would he have con- 
tinued to elaborate works full of beauty — or rather of beauties — yet also 
of irreconcilable contradictions ? Would he have sacrificed his tendency to 
the individualization of men and things in order to obtain that large 
synthetic grace, that sculptural harmony of line and movement after which 



78 FREDERICK WALKER 

he so evidently thirsted ? Would he with increased skill and increased 
sensibility have returned to the unquestioning simplicity, to the naive and 
true mode of interpretation of his earlier manner ? As it is, it must be 
said, with all respect and admiration for a painter whose artistic personality 
is so exquisitely sympathetic, so interesting in its struggle for a more 
complete and homogeneous development, that we have in the art of 
Frederick Walker, as it presents itself even in its latest phase, promise 
rather than complete achievement, the scattered and even, it may be said, 
the conflicting elements of beauty, rather than beauty in the sense that 
beauty means unity, strength, and complete significance. 

Whatever view we may take as to the exact place of Walker's life- 
work in the English art of this latter half of the nineteenth century, it 
is impossible to regard him otherwise than as one of the most interesting 
figures of that time ; so isolated does he stand among the painters his 
contemporaries, so little does he owe on the whole to English or foreign 
example ; so strenuous, so pathetic is his striving after the higher ideal 
as he saw it, or deemed that he saw it. During the years that have 
elapsed since his death his fame has stood higher far than ever it did in 
his lifetime, and there is as yet. no outward sign that it has diminished or 
will diminish. It is possible, nevertheless, that posterity may not uphold 
to the full the view of the last two decades. As to this it would be 
mere presumption to hazard a prophecy, especially on the basis of an appre- 
ciation which is certainly at present not that of the majority. Even 
should a later and more dispassionate judgment not completely confirm 
the peculiar position accorded to Walker, if not above, yet at any rate 
apart from that of a home-grown artist of his day, it will assuredly 
assign to him a niche in the British Walhalla, and uphold his reputation 
as one of the most English of modern English painters — perhaps the 
one in whom the wistful tenderness which goes so far to redeem our time 
of trouble and misgiving, in art as in life, has found the most touching 
expression. 



INDEX 

About, Edmund, 1 1 " Escape, The," 59 

Academy, Royal, 9, 10, 23, 47, 52, 55, 62 Etchings, 66 

Agncw, William, 59 Everybody's Journal, 1 1 

Algiers, 61 "Evidence for Defence," 30 

"Amateur, The," 55 

Ansdell, Richard, 71 "Fishmonger's Shop, The," 59 

Armstead, H. A., 64 » First Swallow," 43 

"Autumn," 19, 30 



" Bar, at the," 56 



"Garden Scene," 27, 28 
Geibcl, 1 1 



Bastien-Lcpage, 44, 61, 62 llP • , u t a r t? l 

Lrenius under the Influence ol Fresh 
"Bathers, the," 30, 32 



Beehives," 46 



Air," 34 

Gilbert, Sir John, 56 

"Blackberry Gatherers," 27 lt „. , „ , " 

1 ' "Girl at a Style, 57 

"Bouquet, The," 30 ., ~, , . . ,. , 

1 J Gondola, A, 46 
Breton, Jules, 24, 25, 26, 38, 72 

British Museum, 9, 2 3 rT 

"Harbour ol Refuge, The," 48, 53, 57, 

Calderon, Philip, 25, 34 58, 59' 6z 

Carr, J. Comyns, 10, 21, 40, 56, 57, 70 Herkomer, Hubert, 61 

Chalmers, G. P., 54 Hescltine, J. P., 66 

"Chaplain's Daughter, The," 33 Hodgson, Mr., 70, 71, 75 

Constable, 30 "Housewife, The," 57 

Cookham, 64 "How dare you say such things to Jim, 

"Cookham, the Street," 43 Grandpapa," 51 

CornMIl Magazine, 10 Hunt > Holman, 7 

Costa, Sigr., 72 Hunt ' William, 46, 66 

Dalziel, Messrs., 19 "Introduction, The," 30 

"Dame's School," 23 Isracls5 j oscf; - + 

David, M., 24 

Denis Duval, designs for, 17 Jackson, S. P., 62 

"Denis Duval's Valet," 30 

Durer, Albert, 11, 52 Keene, Charles, 11 



8o 



INDEX 



"Lady in a Garden, Perthshire," 51 

Langham Chambers, 10 

Leech, John, 1 1 

Leigh, Mr., 9 

Leighton, Sir F., \\ 

"Let us drink to the Health of" the 

Absent," 33 
Lewis, A. J., 9, 35 
"Lilies," 30, 44, 50 
"Lost Path, The," 23, 56 
Louvre, the, 24 
Luxembourg, the, 24 

Macbeth, R. W., 57 

Marks, Stacey, 34 

" Marlow Ferry," 55 

Marylebone, 9 

Mason, George, 6, 25, 53, 64, 72 

Menzel, Adolf, 14, 17 

Millais, Sir John, 7, 1 1, 1 3, 1 7, 26, 28 

Millet, Jean Francois, 25, 26, 38, 50, 54, 

73, 76 
Moray Minstrels, 35 
" Mushroom Gatherers," 40 
" Mushrooms and Fungi," 46 

North, J. W., 61, 74 
Noscda, Mrs. J., 66 

"Old Farm Garden," 57 
"Old Gate, The," 48, 54 
" Once a Week," 10, 1 1 
"Orchard, In an," 41 
Orchardson, W. O., 55 

Paris, 24 

Paris 1867 Exhibition, 28, 38 

"Philip in Church," 15, 27, 28 

Philip on his Way through the World, 

designs for, 14, I 5 
Pinwell, George, 6 
"Plough, The," 48, 52, 54 
Pre-Raphaelites, 7, 17, 51 
Punch, designs for, 3 5 



"Rainbow, The," 62 

" Refreshment," 27 

Ritchie, Mrs. Richmond, 12 

Roget, T. C, 17, 27 

Rossetti, D. G., 7 

Royal Society of Artists, Birmingham, 12, 

57, 7+ 
Ruskin, John, 46 

St. Fillans, Perthshire, 64 

Sandys, T., 1 1 

School, North London Collegiate, Camden 

Town, 9 
Seasons, designs for, 19 
Smith, George, 1 1 
" Spring," 19, 27 
" Stobhall Gardens," 20, 50 
"Stream in Inverness-shire," 46 

" Sunny Thames," 64 

i 

Taylor, Tom, 1 1 
Tcnniel, J., 1 1 
Thackeray, 11,12 

Miss, 15, 33, 44 
"Three Fates, The," 33 
Trollopc, Anthony, 13, 14, 15 

"Unknown Land," 59, 64, 66 

"Vagrants, The," 47, 54 
"Vale of Rest," 59 
Venice, 46, 54 
Versailles, 24 
"Village, The," 61 

Waltner, Mr., 23 

Water Colours, Royal Society of Painters 

in, 27, 30, 54, 55, 61 
Wattcau, 10 

"Wayfarers," etching of the, 22, 69 
"Wayfarers, The," 30 
Whympcr, T. W., 10 
Wood engraving, 10 



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